Midnight in the Arizona desert. The skies are black, scorpions scamper across the tarmac and Border Patrol agents warn us this is rattlesnake season.
But the reason for our visit to Fort Huachuca isn’t about natural history. It’s about a different, but equally dangerous species that calls the Sonoran Desert home – the Customs and Border Protection Predator B.
Early Predators earned respect overseas, wiping out key members of Al Queda in Afghanistan without ever being seen. They fly at a variety of altitudes with payloads ranging from missiles to cameras to radar. Versatile, these unmanned ariel vehicles (UAV’s) fly up to 20 hours without refueling and do so without endangering pilots, who guide the aircraft by remote control tens to hundreds of miles away.
Success on the battlefield, especially as a high-flying surveillance plane, prompted the Department of Homeland Security to invest in a civilian version of the Predator for use on the border. Currently the agency operates 6 Predators, two on the northern border, three along the Mexican border and one in the Caribbean. Last month, Congress appropriated another $32 million for two more Predators to be based out of Texas.
Full Story: Predator B: Weapon or Waste? « Liveshots
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