Military Blimps To Join U.S. Border Patrol?

Kyle Murphy - Author

Jun. 15 2013, Updated 9:04 p.m. ET

Military survillance blimps could well become new additions to the United States’ border patrol.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the United States military and border-patrol officials are working together in an initiative that could bring dozens of these unmanned surveillance blimps from the Afghanistan battlefield to the America’s border with Mexico.

The U.S. military will oversee a test over the next few weeks to see if “the floating eye” can help find drug runners and people trying to cross the border illegaly into the United States. The blimp’s initial use during the war was to find insurgents in Afghanistan. If successful, dozens of the $1 million -$5 million blimps could be patrolling our borders.

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This initiative would help settle two issues . One issue is the upgrade to the United States’ border patrol, the second issue being that the military needs to find uses for equipment returning from Afghanistan once troops are withdrawn.

According to Newser, the blimps aren’t the only military equipment that they are looking at to help with enhanching border protection in the United States. They are also looking at instant-translation devices and wide-ranging sensors to help out. However, past attempts to pump up border protection using high-tech surveillance have not worked well.

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security pulled the plug on a billion-dollar initiative. This initiative, known as SBLnet, was abandoned once the troubled “electronic fence” using cameras, radars, and other devices could not provide the unified border-monitoring system that they initially envisioned.

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“This kind of technology can be very alluring,” says a customs official. “In the past, we’ve said: ‘That’s kind of cool. Let’s go out and buy it.’ That can turn out to be a less-than-bright thing to do.”

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If successful, the military will provide these blimps to border officials free of charge. However, border officals will stiill have to decide whether or not these 72-feet-long beauties are a good fit for the agency, and whether-or-not they are worth it, since they would have to pay people to operate, monitor, and repair them.


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