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The Military Technology

U.S. Border Patrol Drone Goes Down, Rest of Fleet Grounded 138

coondoggie writes "The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service said today it has grounded its nine remaining unmanned aircraft after one of them was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. The unmanned aircraft had an unknown mechanical failure while on patrol off the southern California coast. The crew determined that it wouldn't make it back to Sierra Vista, Arizona, 'and put the aircraft down in the water.' The drone cost about $12 million. 'The Predator B, also known as the MQ-9 Reaper in the U.S. Air Force, can fly as many as 27 hours and reach an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), according to the website of Poway, California-based General Atomics. It has a wingspan of 66 feet (20 meters) and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of cameras, weapons or other payload, according to the company.'"
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U.S. Border Patrol Drone Goes Down, Rest of Fleet Grounded

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  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:29PM (#46096111)

    It's a shame that San Diego is now so huge that there isn't a single spot to land between the pacific and Arizona...

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:36PM (#46096169)

    Yea, I call bullshit.

    No one puts down a 12 million dollar drone in the Pacific because it couldn't make it several hundred miles inland instead of just landing it somewhere ... like say any one of the many airports military or otherwise they had to choose from.

    Or you fly it over some unpopulated beach and land it on the beach, or okay, so the camera's went out, you put a spotter aircraft on it and follow it home using the spotter for visuals.

    They didn't make a 'choice' to put it down in the ocean, it fucking crashed.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:44PM (#46096209)
    they put it 'down' to enhance their budget for next year. no individual in any agency in any government in the US is monetarily rewarded by coming in under budget.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whois ( 27479 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:28PM (#46096497) Homepage

    Having played with cheap quadcopters, I feel there is a valid answer to this.

    Their battery life is shit and turbulence ruins any chance of it being a stable platform for imaging. Even if you fix it so they hover okay you'll still have issues having it follow a vehicle. Granted I'm not sure how well the drones they're using cope with any of this either.

    Also you gotta remember they're not looking for people crossing the border, they're looking for drugs. Or any other high value target that gets them money or press. If they saw an individual crossing a border they would probably just phone the local PD to check it out. It sounds like they're tailing boats and cars with the drones.

  • Cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:17PM (#46097019)

    Wonder how many school lunches you could have served to poor kids for twelve million dollars.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @12:17AM (#46097287)
    Maybe they didn't have the choice to land it normally. If the drone will crash, it's better to crash it where there are no people rather than say, the middle of San Diego.

    This is not a hypothetical situation that has never happened before. For example, a passenger jet made an emergency landing [] in the Hudson River in New York City in 2009. That beat running the plane through a building or belly flopping on a crowded street.

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