Drones tested by the Coast Guard for the Gulf of Mexico

The unmanned aerial vehicles that fly sorties over Afghanistan and Pakistan are coming to Florida to fly over the Gulf of Mexico.

But their missions here will be quite different: The Coast Guard wants to use them for drug interdiction and search and rescue…

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Homeland Security Department, has been using Predator B drones to monitor the nation’s northern and southern borders since 2005…

The drones used domestically are not armed. They’re equipped only for surveillance and tracking. But can they surveil and track objects on water?

That’s what the Coast Guard needs to find out. That’s why the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection jointly developed a maritime version of the Predator B. Its name: the Guardian. And it’s more advanced than the drones that patrol the nation’s borders, the admiral said.

“The Coast Guard has helped develop a prototype Predator that uses a maritime radar that moves beyond the sensors you have for land targets,” Allen said. “It just brings in another level of technology to counter the drug threat…”

Allen said test flights should begin in March at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A successful test should lead to the acquisition of a fleet.

Here comes Coast Guard gamers!

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