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The Department of Homeland Security will likely have to wait a while before having a full UAV fleet

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it needs a fleet of 24 unmanned aerial vehicles to properly patrol the U.S. borders and aid in national disaster relief, security officials now say.  

The DHS would rather complete its anticipated UAV fleet as quickly as possible, but is only receiving enough funds to purchase one Predator aircraft every year.

The use of UAVs typically has been combat oriented, but can be used for a wide variety of tasks over U.S. territory.  The DHS previously announced it plans to use UAVs to help patrol the Mexican borders for illegal immigrants sneaking across -- and more importantly, according to some security experts, the drug and human smuggling groups that move freely across the border.

DHS officials will use its fleet to monitor both the Canadian and Mexican borders, and wants to have the capability of launching a UAV and reaching anywhere in the continental U.S. within three hours.  The U.S. Coast Guard recently finished testing the Guardian UAV as part of its unmanned maritime response movements.

Another problem the DHS will have to deal with is increased competition for experienced UAV pilots and sensor operators -- the select few that aren't currently in the military are quickly snapped up by private contractors and other government agencies.





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