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U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that its Office of Air and Marine’s Unmanned Aircraft System program has achieved a historic milestone, exceeding 10,000 flight hours.

Unveiled in 2005, the highly capable and proven Predator B UAS supports CBP’s primary mission of securing the border and preventing acts of terrorism by helping to identify and intercept potential terrorist and illegal cross-border activity. Manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the aircraft’s operational capabilities, payload capacity and mission flexibility greatly enhances the agency’s enforcement and emergency and disaster response efforts.

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CBP Unmanned Aircraft System highlights:

– UAS Predator operations have resulted in the apprehension of 4,865 undocumented aliens and 238 smugglers; the seizure of 33,773 pounds of contraband; and 4,285 sensor activations.

-OAM has trained over 100 UAS aircrew since program inception.

-In June 2009, OAM conducted a successful surge operation to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, operating from the Army’s Wheeler-Sack airfield at Fort Drum, New York, OAM conducted simultaneous UAS law enforcement support operations via satellite, and demonstrated long-endurance UAS operations executed by several OAM UAS command sites.

-In July 2009, OAM conducted the first-ever UAS landing at a commercial airport for CBP’s participation in Oshkosh. This was also the first time a UAS was on display at a non-military event.

-To date, CBP has more than ten mission Certificates of Authorization in place, including two that account for approximately 1,200 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border and another that stretches 950 miles along the northern border from Spokane, Wash., to the vicinity of Lake-of-the-Woods, Minn.

Source: CBP

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