SAN DIEGO -Leaders of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security face an enormous challenge in trying to detect illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.
Now they have technology on their side. Through the end of January, Border Patrol agents will monitor the vast desert with two RQ-5 Hunter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) developed by Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems unit in San Diego.
The UAVs will use optoelectronic infrared sensors to scan the Arizona border area 90 miles southeast of Tucson.
“A critical part of Northrop Grumman’s layered defense approach to homeland security is to help strengthen the weakest links in the nation’s defense,” says David Zolet, vice president, Homeland Security, Northrop Grumman.
“Unmanned aerial vehicles provide unparalleled surveillance capabilities that not only cause greater levels of apprehension among potential terrorists, but also provide safer working conditions for Border Patrol agents who risk their lives on a daily basis,” Zolet says.
Hunter is just one of several UAVs in Northrop Grumman’s portfolio of unmanned systems that could support the Arizona Border Control’s surveillance and reconnaissance requirements.
“Hunter UAVs provide a variety of battle-tested capabilities and sensor options that are well suited to Border Patrol operations,” says Chris Hernandez, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems unit. “These capabilities include sustained autonomous flight, high-resolution day and nighttime visual and infrared sensors, integrated GPS location systems, and the ability to relay communication signals to border patrol agents.”
Stealth is another benefit of the Hunter. People on the ground may be unaware of its presence because of the vehicle’s low visual profile at altitude and its quiet engine, says Hernandez.
The Border Patrol is now part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security. For more information on Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, see www.is.northropgrumman.com/index.html.