DHS looking to bolster drone security surveillance system

Department of Homeland Security wants Predator unmanned aircraft to watch everything

The Department of Homeland Security is looking to bolster is drone squadron with a surveillance package able to watch over a wide swath of area day or night.

DHS said it will  award 2-3 contracts to security firms that will  demonstrate a Wide Area Aerial Surveillance System (WAASS) that provides what the DHS says is "persistent, long-term surveillance over urban and rural terrain at least the size of 16 km2. "

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From the DHS: "The surveillance system shall have an electro-optical capability for daylight missions but can have an infrared capability for day or night operations. The sensor shall integrate with an airborne platform for data gathering. The imagery data shall be displayed at a DHS operations center and have the capability for forensic analysis within 36 hours of the flight."

DHS says WAASS has applications in the land-border monitoring environment in particular and says that the goal is to have a system mostly operating from Predator unmanned aircraft that can offer surveillance of humans, vehicles, and other targets of interest to DHS's operational components.

DHS has or will soon have about 10 drones and long term it could operate up to 24.  Interestingly however a Los Angeles Times story recently noted that while the agency ads drones it is way short on people to actually fly and operate them.  Congress approved $32 million to buy the [three] new drones last August. But the authorization did not include money to train or hire new pilots or crews, or to buy spare parts, officials told the Times.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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