The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is displaying the Guardian, a maritime variant of the MQ-9 Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the Paris Air Show. CBP acquired the UAS, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of Poway, California, to enhance the agency’s long-range maritime surveillance, detection and targeting capabilities in the Eastern Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, as well as to support anti-terror efforts along maritime smuggling routes.
The Guardian began operational testing and evaluation at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in February 2010 and began conducting missions in April. CBP currently has five Predator B and two Guardian aircraft operating from strategic locations in the U.S. Two additional Predator Bs are scheduled for delivery by December and the third Guardian by early 2012.
Since its inception, the CBP Office of Air and Marine UAS program has flown more than 10,000 hours responding to requests for support from CBP ground agents and for emergency response and disaster support by state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.