The U.S. military is partnering with border-patrol officials in an initiative that could bring dozens of surveillance blimps from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the U.S. border with Mexico.
In south Texas, the military and border officials are trying a 72-foot-long blimp made by TCOM LP, Columbia, Md. The blimp, which includes a battlefield sensor, is tethered to the ground by a cable that provides a communications link. The test will expand to include another blimp equipped with different sensors.
In the spring of 2012, border officials tested another blimp that was fitted with a battlefield camera known as Kestrel, a system created by Logos Technologies Inc., Fairfax, Va. The camera can continuously monitor a city-sized area of land for days at a time. According to John Marion, director of the company's persistent-surveillance division, such cameras have been credited with helping U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan pinpoint insurgent attackers and avoid hidden bombs.
Image courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.