UAV tracking at US Southern Border

09/03/2015 15:40

Ultralights, Paraplanes and UAVs do not go Undetected by Spynel at the US Southern Border.

Paraplanes and ultralights have been used for years to smuggle drugs across the Southern Border. They are hard to spot and can carry payloads of hundreds of pounds. In 2012, CBP had recorded 223 ultralight incursions along the US-Mexico border. The drugs are  quietly flown over the border and unloaded to distributors in the US. Following the transaction, the ultralight returns to Mexico undetected. Flying as low as 200 feet above ground, ultralights are particularly difficult for radars to detect as the carbon fiber and aluminum material have an extremely low radar signature, making detection nearly impossible.  

HGH Infrared Systems participated in a demonstration in Southern Arizona and the Spynel C 3000 model successfully detected ultralights at a distance of more than 9km. The Spynel C 3000 is HGH’s middle of the line panoramic thermal sensor, with an automatic detection range of 3km for a person and 6 km for a vehicle. Other Spynel models can go as high as 8km for a person.

But drugs smugglers may begin to look to UAVs to smuggle drugs in order to avoid accidents or being caught, given their more inconspicuous nature. Indeed, the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012 increased the penalties for ultralight smuggler pilots: the law closed a loophole where ultralight aircrafts in drug smuggling were treated differently than larger aircraft. Now, the penalty can be a 20-year jail sentence and up to $250,000 in fines.

In January 2015, as reported by LA Weekly, a $1,400 drone was used to bring crystal meth over the border and ended up crashing in a parking lot in Tijuana. Micro-drones are readily available to the public, cheap, able to carry a payload and can be programmed to land at a specific location autonomously. They are typically slow moving and have a very low heat signature, as such,  very few technologies out there have been proven effective at detecting and tracking micro-UAVs. Radars in particular have had very limited results, as well as acoustic sensors which require an exact sound signature match in order to operate (and are therefore very easy to spoof). Spynel are, to date, the best UAV detection technology on the market : with their large vertical field of view, Spynel cameras have been demonstrated to detect and track micro-UAVs at a up to 800m. Easy to operate and deploy, Spynel can be quickly mastered by novice operators. They are ruggedized, and can sustain the harshest environments, including high heat.

Drone tracked by Spynel-S sensor