ND Sen. asks Customs and Border patrol to work with UAS sites

By Patrick C. Miller | August 08, 2014

A U.S. senator is asking Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to partner with the FAA’s UAS test sites to develop technology that enhances security along the northern border.

In an Aug. 1 letter to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., requested that the federal agency work with the FAA-designated UAS test site in Grand Forks, N.D., calling it an ideal location to “pursue its goal of integrating small UAS into their operations.”

Hoeven said the agency should “take advantage of the extensive resources and expertise offered by these test sites, including Grand Forks.” The city was designated as one of FAA’s six UAS test sites in December 2013. CBP operates the General Atomic MQ-9 Reaper aircraft from Grand Forks to perform security missions along the Canadian border.

In his letter, Hoeven noted a provision in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding legislation passed last June by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee which encourages the agency to coordinate its UAS research with the FAA’s six national test sites. The purpose is to ensure that the new technology conforms to the operational and safety standards developed to integrate UAS into the national airspace (NAS), he said.

Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, hopes that because of the committee’s emphasis on interagency cooperation for UAS integration, the CBP “will take advantage of the North Dakota test site that is essentially co-located with CBP’s northern UAS hub.

“Such efforts will accelerate the development of technology CBP will need to meet increasing demand, will be cost effective and greatly benefit the national effort to integrate UAS into the NAS,” he said.