Future Trends

CBP Increases Drone Usage to Support ISR Missions

Unmanned aircraft systems

CBP Increases Drone Usage to Support ISR Missions

Customs and Border Protection has expanded its use of unmanned aircraft systems over the last five years for search and rescue and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, among other purposes.

In an interview during a webinar edition of Ask the CIO, Quinn Palmer, the national operations director for small UAS at CBP, said the agency now has 2,000 drone operators and 330 unmanned systems, with plans to train more operators and acquire new UAS units in the coming months, Federal News Network reported.

According to Palmer, drones enabled CBP to apprehend 42,000 people for illegally crossing the border and seize 2,800 pounds of narcotics, 95 vehicles and 13 weapons between fiscal years 2020 and 2023.

He also noted that using drones resulted in lower sustainment costs compared to manned systems, citing a $50 million cost avoidance in 2023.

Palmer, however, said that the CBP is still improving how it manages UAS sustainment to keep the systems running despite operations in environments not intended for small UAS units.

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Category: Future Trends

Tags: Customs and Border Protection drone sustainment Federal News Network Future Trends Quinn Palmer unmanned aircraft system