The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) took delivery Monday of the first maritime variant of the Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS). At a ceremony in Palmdale, California, CBP, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and General Atomics Aeronatuical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) unveiled the prototype maritime variant Predator B, known as Guardian.
To support future mission requirements, CBP in partnership with the Coast Guard in a joint program office, is exploring this maritime variant of its Predator B UAS to increase reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting acquisition capabilities in maritime operating environments. For this purpose, GA-ASI, the manufacturer of the Predator B UAS, modified a CBP Predator B aircraft to become the Guardian.
The Guardian has been modified from a standard Predator B with structural, avionics, and communications enhancements, as well as the addition of a Raytheon SeaVue Marine Search Radar and an Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Sensor that is optimized for maritime operations.
The Guardian is expected to be ready for Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) in early 2010. This OT&E will be conducted jointly by CBP and USCG from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After the Guardian completes operational testing this spring, it will be deployed to the drug source and transit zones to support joint counter-narcotics operations.
In 2008, CBP and the USCG formed a UAS Joint Program Office to identify and address common maritime UAS requirements, including sensors, command and control, data exploitation, logistics and training, and basing.
Built by General Atomics Aeronautical Aviation, CBP Air & Marine’s new MQ-9 Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System will support air and marine crews and Border Patrol agents charged with securing the border.
For more information, visit http://www.uscg.mil/