Boeing Frontiers
December 2002/January 2003
Volume 01, Issue 08
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UAVs eyed for homeland security

UAVs eyed for homeland securityHaving proved themselves in military operations overseas, pilotless remotecontrolled drone airplanes are being talked about for a prominent new domestic duty in the United States: homeland security, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

If concerns about their safety and reliability can be resolved, proponents say, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could provide round-the- clock surveillance of pipelines and ports, safely investigate disasters involving hazardous and radioactive materials and easily gauge damage to bridges, buildings and hard-to- access areas, the newspaper said.

''There's a huge potential for UAVs to play a meaningful role in homeland security,'' Mike Heinz, vice president and general manager of unmanned systems for Boeing in St. Louis, told the paper. ''You're only limited in terms of your imagination by what you can do with them.''

Just last month, a U.S.-controlled Predator UAV fired a Hellfire missile at six suspected Al Qaida terrorists in a car traveling in a remote location in Yemen.

UAVs, however, do not need to carry weapons. They also can be outfitted with high-tech sensors, video cameras and other communications equipment—all useful for defending against domestic terrorism, the newspaper said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is interested in using UAVs to watch over oil and gas pipelines to prevent and detect sabotage, the Star-Tribune said.

They also could be used to follow truck shipments of hazardous cargo.

''I don't personally see them as being limited to security applications,'' Ellen Engleman, administrator of the department's Research and Special Programs Administration, told the newspaper. ''UAVs can be used as early-warning tools, assessment tools, monitoring tools for critical infrastructure, planning tools. I'm having a hard time seeing what a UAV platform couldn't do.''


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