Newest Border Agent: a Blimp?

Military seeks new uses for Afghanistan equipment
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2012 9:31 AM CDT
Newest Border Agent: a Blimp?
The US Navy’s MZ-3A Airship comes in for a landing at Brookley Field in Mobile, Ala. Friday, July 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/Press-Register, Bill Starling)

America's new border agents could be … blimps. The US military is testing a 72-foot unmanned blimp, currently used to locate insurgents in Afghanistan and referred to as "the floating eye," to see if it could also be used to spot illegal border-crossers. If it works, dozens of the $1 million to $5 million blimps could patrol the border—and the initiative would kill two birds with one stone, as the military needs to find ways to use equipment that's returning from Afghanistan when troops withdraw.

Blimps aren't the only gear the military is looking at for border protection—instant-translation devices and wide-ranging sensors could also be used, as the US attempts to pump up border security. But past attempts to set up high-tech surveillance have suffered setbacks, the Wall Street Journal notes. "This kind of technology can be very alluring," says a customs official. "In the past, we've said: 'That's kind of cool. Let's go out and buy it.' That can turn out to be a less-than-bright thing to do." (More Border Patrol stories.)

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