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U.S. Border Patrol Drone Goes Down, Rest of Fleet Grounded

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the in-the-event-of-a-water-landing dept.

The Military 138

coondoggie writes "The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service said today it has grounded its nine remaining unmanned aircraft after one of them was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. The unmanned aircraft had an unknown mechanical failure while on patrol off the southern California coast. The crew determined that it wouldn't make it back to Sierra Vista, Arizona, 'and put the aircraft down in the water.' The drone cost about $12 million. 'The Predator B, also known as the MQ-9 Reaper in the U.S. Air Force, can fly as many as 27 hours and reach an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), according to the website of Poway, California-based General Atomics. It has a wingspan of 66 feet (20 meters) and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of cameras, weapons or other payload, according to the company.'"

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...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096045)

Anyone else read that as "of 3,000 pounds of cocaine, weapons or other payload"?

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096081)

I just figured it was carrying your mother.

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (3, Funny)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 6 months ago | (#46096133)

mother-in-law

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096293)

You marry your sister, it's hard to know how to introduce the family, oy!

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097073)

You're from Tennessee too?!

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096325)

So, when the Mexican cartels get some of these, they can ferry in about 20 people, or 1360 kilos of cocaine at a drop. Nice! :tongue-in-cheek:

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (3, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46096301)

Anyone else read that as "of 1,361 kilos of cocaine, weapons or other payload"?

FTFY

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46096571)

Anyone else read that as "of 1,361 kilos of cocaine, weapons or other payload"?

FTFY

The extra 1 kg was for the baggies, so he didn't include it in the total cocaine weight.

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46096685)

Do you think that the border patrol would risk a turf war with the CIA?

Narco territory battles can get ugly...

Re:...and can carry more than 3,000 pounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097057)

I read it as "So glad big hunks of metal with blades are falling all around us."

WOW! $12 million ??? (1)

careysb (566113) | about 6 months ago | (#46097115)

You can buy a whole load of DJI Phantoms for that price. Quantity over quality.

Re:WOW! $12 million ??? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 6 months ago | (#46098845)

And since you can keep a Phantom in the air for about 15 minutes, you'd need (using calculatore...) 108 of them for that same 27 hour mission. Sort of like getting nine women on that baby project so you can get it done in only one month, right?

Even the "serious" small UAV's just can't come close to dealing with the weather, altitude, speed, and the rest that those big beasts are designed to handle. I'm almost surprised that they only cost $12m.

Airplanes crash. It's going to happen. Can't make up for that, in some situations, by using lots of tiny ones.

Chow Call!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096053)

I wonder who will get there first.

Not widely reported (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096103)

It was believed it was a piñata containing food stamps, so local residents fired upon the drone only to find useless metal. Instead, a party paid for with the scrap metal is scheduled for this evening.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096105)

A few months back when a drone went down in the Great Lakes region, didn't the government say something along the lines of, "Don't worry about it. It was just a drill. We have no plan to have drones flying over US air space," or am I just mis-remembering things?

Re:So... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 months ago | (#46098209)

Freedom is truth, citizen.

Pacific, or Arizona ? (4, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 6 months ago | (#46096111)

It's a shame that San Diego is now so huge that there isn't a single spot to land between the pacific and Arizona...

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46096169)

Yea, I call bullshit.

No one puts down a 12 million dollar drone in the Pacific because it couldn't make it several hundred miles inland instead of just landing it somewhere ... like say any one of the many airports military or otherwise they had to choose from.

Or you fly it over some unpopulated beach and land it on the beach, or okay, so the camera's went out, you put a spotter aircraft on it and follow it home using the spotter for visuals.

They didn't make a 'choice' to put it down in the ocean, it fucking crashed.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (5, Insightful)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 6 months ago | (#46096209)

they put it 'down' to enhance their budget for next year. no individual in any agency in any government in the US is monetarily rewarded by coming in under budget.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096239)

I live in San Diego. They should have crashed it into my bed so I can go back in time through a baby universe and converse with a big ugly rabbit named Frank.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46096327)

I live in San Diego. They should have crashed it into my bed so I can go back in time through a baby universe and converse with a big ugly rabbit named Frank.

I don't think that worked out so well for Donnie in the end.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096501)

He got a girlfriend out of it, which is more than can be said for most Slashdotters, so who am I to complain?

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46097039)

Except she didn't remember him and/or none of it really happened. And from his perspective she was shot and killed and then he was crushed by a jet engine that fell from the plane his mother was on.

I suppose, " 'tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 6 months ago | (#46096299)

I would believe crashing somewhere in reach of a recovery crew if they were trying to get to an airport and it was apparent it was not going to get over land, no matter where it is based. My first guess is a mangled statement from the sound bite generators.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 6 months ago | (#46096683)

They didn't specify what the problem was. It could have been anything from typical aircraft problems, to specialty drone problems. Failed powerplant (i.e., engine broke). Failed aerodynamic surfaces. Failed airframe during high stress maneuver. Inadvertent intersection of flight path with birds.

Or the drone specific problems. Computer failure(s). Uplink failure(s). Intersection of bird with the camera.

Their options may have been very limited. An intentional crash into the water (full throttle, nose down) could mitigate some risk of recovery.

I would think crashing it into empty desert would have been preferred for recovery of all the parts. Maybe making it to the desert may not have been practical.

And, all in all, it's only a few million dollars. It's the gov't, they have plenty of money. {sigh}

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (3, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#46096823)

I was thinking ditching it may have been a deliberate choice to keep it out of the hands of the American public. Just imagine some hackers getting to the wreckage first and disassembling the electronics and optics to learn its true capabilities.

If you're going to rely on a secret weapon to keep the bad guys guessing, you have to keep it secret.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097349)

Just hang out in a bar in Poway California. You can just ask anyone who looks like they make more than $40k & less than $120k. If they don't build the things currently, they did previously or know someone who does.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 6 months ago | (#46097373)

Oops, I forgot to say that part. :) They don't want some civilian, or worse a foreign intelligence agency, getting a hold of one.

Ditching in the desert, or ditching in the ocean, as long as it's a hard impact, would scatter pieces. In the ocean, it's much harder to find them and try to figure out how they went together. It's also harder to collect the pieces so others won't find them.

On land, depending on where it hit and who was there, parts or all of it could be retrieved before gov't folks arrived. It would be worse, if it crashed somewhere populated (like downtown San Diego), or somewhere it wouldn't easily returned (like Mexico). The later risks an international incident.

I suspect they opted for water instead of land because of the 2008 F/A-18 crash in San Diego, and others. People get all upset when an airplane crashes in their city.

I'm surprised they don't have pyrotechnics on-board to remove any sensitive equipment. Looking at this report on another crash [examiner.com] , they had to go to the crash site to collect the good bits. This one, regarding the same type aircraft [popsci.com] says they don't have self-destruct mechanisms, but can wipe their storage if instructed to.

I would have thought a way to make the aircraft a pile of worthless scrap before it hits the ground would have been one of the first things they put on when they decided these would be in a recon/combat role.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097805)

I worked at GA, programming the ground station these things are piloted from. All the tech is publicly available, and the secret part, the source code, is such that we all hoped our state enemies would get ahold of it, as it would set the state of their art back ten years, at least!

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (2)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46096711)

Can you just imagine the shitstorm if a crippled drone crashed into a populated area? Or the embarrassment if it crashed in the middle of nowhere and a drug lord managed to get to it first?

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097053)

Well, I lost 12 million dollars the other day, too. No biggie, I'll just ask for another 25 mill to help fix things. -Unk Sam.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097605)

You call BS? That's because you don't know what you are talking about. Take off and landings are performed by pilots and pretty much the only thing that's preferable to do autonomously. Just like commercial aviation most of the flying is done on autopilot.

It's standard operating procedure that if a drone loses contact with the pilot/ground station it will loiter at a designated way point. If it can't reestablish communications withing a designated amount of time it does a controlled decent. Where is the safest, least populated place to land when you can't be certain exactly where you are? The ocean.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097861)

Crashing and landing are two different things.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 6 months ago | (#46097713)

Depending on exactly what problem they had, it may have been an absolutely correct decision to put it down where it wouldn't hurt anyone. That is one of the big advantages of drones, you can ditch them without killing the pilot.

There is a lot of empty space in San Diego,but there are a lot of crowded areas as well.

12 mil is a lot, but not huge compared to the total budget, and better than killing someone - at least politically.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46098059)

No one puts down a 12 million dollar drone in the Pacific because it couldn't make it several hundred miles inland instead of just landing it somewhere

Sure they do. It crashed, so it had to be Put Down, like a dog ya know?

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (4, Informative)

flaming error (1041742) | about 6 months ago | (#46096187)

I know, it reads like that for me too. But if your UAV is going down, you ditch it the nearest place where it's unlikely to hit people.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#46096287)

I wonder if that bounty in some city in Colorado would apply here?

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 months ago | (#46096859)

City? Deer Trail is 500 people living in one square mile around a truck stop.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 6 months ago | (#46098859)

I wonder if that bounty in some city in Colorado would apply here?

You do know that isn't actually real, right? Just checking.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096337)

It's a shame that San Diego is now so huge that there isn't a single spot to land between the pacific and Arizona...

RTFA.....

It's based out of Arizona but was patrolling the sea off the California coast, as it was designed to do.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46096549)

It's a shame that San Diego is now so huge that there isn't a single spot to land between the pacific and Arizona...

RTFA.....

It's based out of Arizona but was patrolling the sea off the California coast, as it was designed to do.

I read TFA (both of them) and they say pretty much the same thing as the summary (and what you said). They crashed it into the ocean because it couldn't make it back to San Diego.

But surely there's some airport or deserted stretch of land in the 100 - 200 miles between the ocean and Arizona where they could have landed the $12M piece of equipment? Now maybe they lost control of the drone and were forced to crash it, but neither article says so.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097367)

Looking for narco-subs with synthetic aperture radar then... I wonder if I can pick up those microwaves on my SDR?

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (5, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46096377)

Drone: Confirmation on armament of payload?
Pilot: Cancel armament
Drone: Armament confirmed. Target 48 miles and closing.
Pilot: CANCEL TARGET
Drone: Confirmed, Arming warhead.
Pilot: Warhead?!? Cancel Target!!!
Drone: Nuclear detonation will destroy drone, confirm?
Pilot: Nuclear? What?!?! Putting her down!!!

*giggles from outside control room*

Pilots friends: Dude we totally got you!! You thought it was going to launch a nuke!!! Hahahaha! Did you piss yourself?!?! Hahahaha!
Pilot: No, I put her down in the pacific.
*Pilots ex-friends back slowly out of the room*

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46098647)

It's very touching that you think typing commands in uppercase makes them more imperative

Makinh something out of nothing, (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#46097007)

It's a shame that San Diego is now so huge that there isn't a single spot to land between the pacific and Arizona...

Customs and Border Protection says the drone was on a border security mission when a mechanical problem developed about 20 miles southwest of San Diego late Monday night. Spokesman Mike Friel says the crew operating the drone from Texas decided to crash it in the ocean.

The $12 million surveillance drone was one of 10 that Homeland Security uses to patrol the border with Mexico. It was just one of two Predator B drones equipped with radar specifically designed to be used over the ocean.

Friel says the cause of the mechanical failure is unknown and that the remainder of the drone fleet has been temporarily grounded while the investigation into the incident continues.

DHS Drone Crashes Into Pacific off Calif Coast [go.com]

The second direction the design took was the "Predator B-003", referred to by GA as the "Altair", which has a new airframe with an 84-foot (25.6 m) wingspan and a takeoff weight of about 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg). Like the Predator B-001, it is powered by a TP-331-10T turboprop. This variant has a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), a maximum ceiling of 52,000 feet (15.8 km), and an endurance of 36 hours.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper [wikipedia.org]

Ten tons. 36 hours. If your control of the aircraft is compromised, you bring it down over the water.

Re:Pacific, or Arizona ? (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46097287)

Maybe they didn't have the choice to land it normally. If the drone will crash, it's better to crash it where there are no people rather than say, the middle of San Diego.

This is not a hypothetical situation that has never happened before. For example, a passenger jet made an emergency landing [wikipedia.org] in the Hudson River in New York City in 2009. That beat running the plane through a building or belly flopping on a crowded street.

WTF? (4, Interesting)

samantha (68231) | about 6 months ago | (#46096117)

Why do we need such powerful military grade drones just to keep tabs on illegal aliens crossing our borders? A bunch of cheap quadcopters with infrared and other cameras could do the job.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096143)

can fly as many as 27 hours

Do you seriously want to claim that "bunch of cheap quadcopters ... could do the job"?

Re:WTF? (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46096265)

For $12 million each, I'd like those drones to stay aloft for a year before needing to come down for refueling and service, and remain in service for a decade or more.

Forget not Hanlon's shaving gear (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46096567)

The article (I know, right?) claims the cost of each Predator B is $18 Million.

A Predator B belonging to Customs flew into a hillside near Nogales, AZ in 2006 after an operator inadvertently shut off the plane's engine trying to repair a radio-link failure.

Re:Forget not Hanlon's shaving gear (2)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46096881)

But its just a PC with a joystick. Turning my PC off and then back on always fixes it.

Re:WTF? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 6 months ago | (#46096993)

Hokay. 1 Predator = 12mil/27 flight hours. Subtract 3 hrs for takeoff/landing and getting on station for 24 hrs, so you get 2 hrs aloft/ 1 million = 500k/hr.
1 Cessna = 200k (or so).
No brainer, right? Wrong: A Cessna has a range of (guessing) 1000km for about 5 hours aloft/fuel tank. Count the takeoff, etc, and now you're down to 2-3 hrs aloft. So that's 50k /hr. So if you want 24 hours of coverage, you need at least three Cessnas to overlap, so now you're up to 150k /hr. If you want to have the same service ceiling as the Predator, each plane probably will cost 500k for something beefier, so you've more than doubled the cost, and your 150k/hr for three planes turns into ~400k/hr. This is already close to a Predator B.

Now let's add the fact that the Predator has a 3000lb optical surveillance package already built in. You're Cessna carries 4-6 passengers, depending on whether you've bought the 200k one of the 500k one, which is only (let's be generous) 1000lb of payload, not counting the pilot. And the you actually have to buy flight qualified surveillence equipment that you can bolt to the bottom/side of your plane without hosing its flight performance.

Big optics are expensive. Infrared and night vision cameras are more expensive. Going from my own experience, a package like the one on a Predator B, even if you bought all the parts and built it yourself, can easily run upwards of 150k per plane, not including integration costs. And you need to pay for three of them (one per plane). So if you've paid 200k for the plane, you're up to 350k, and if you've paid 400k, your up to 550k for two flight hours.

That's more expensive than a small manned airplane.

Re:WTF? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 6 months ago | (#46097041)

Doh! The manned airplane is more expensive than the *unmanned* airplane.

Re:WTF? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46097081)

Still, I would want whatever asset I pay $12 million for to last at least one year. If it fell into the ocean then I'd be extremely interested in seeing if I could get the manufacturer to refund my money or replace the defective asset. I would certainly make sure that I had a trained and qualified employee using that asset as well, lest it be flown into a hillside by accident. In other words, one should get their money's worth.

If we have too many lost drones then the Cessna alternative might be less expensive.

Re:WTF? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#46096319)

"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?" S.R. Hadden

Does anyone think that Moller [moller.com] has been embarssed enough lately?

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

whois (27479) | about 6 months ago | (#46096497)

Having played with cheap quadcopters, I feel there is a valid answer to this.

Their battery life is shit and turbulence ruins any chance of it being a stable platform for imaging. Even if you fix it so they hover okay you'll still have issues having it follow a vehicle. Granted I'm not sure how well the drones they're using cope with any of this either.

Also you gotta remember they're not looking for people crossing the border, they're looking for drugs. Or any other high value target that gets them money or press. If they saw an individual crossing a border they would probably just phone the local PD to check it out. It sounds like they're tailing boats and cars with the drones.

Re:WTF? (1)

MarkRose (820682) | about 6 months ago | (#46097139)

Cheap multicopters have come a long way. While battery life is still a concern, hovering in strong winds is not [youtube.com] . Combine that with an anti-vibration system and get very smooth imaging [youtube.com] .

The battery issue is solved by using aeroplanes, which use far less energy to stay airborne, and instead of hovering, circling the target.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46096561)

Why do we need such powerful military grade drones just to keep tabs on illegal aliens crossing our borders?

The fact that it ditched in the water while patrolling off the southern coast is a good indication that it was not patrolling for illegal immigrants, but rather for drug smugglers. They are very sophisticated, using not only fast boats, but also submarines. And the pacific ocean is way too big to patrol with toy quadrocopters.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46098067)

Actually, they could use nearby boats as bases and have a swarm of small copters/planes to cover a lot of area at once. When (if) they spot druggies they can Zerg rush.

Surely somebody can find a way to build something for more than $toy yet still less than $12,000,000.

Re:WTF? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 6 months ago | (#46096689)

More accurately how many border patrol agents would that $12 million have paid for? Of course the answer would be but where are the corporate profits in those government employed border patrol agents. Perhaps the US government could privatise border patrol, you know, like a bounty per illegal immigrant. Then corporations could set up operations around the US and bus, ship and fly in illegal immigrants for a token payment, 'er' catch them and return them, create new identities for them and rinse and repeat. After all when corporations contract services to government it is all about the privatised profits and absolutely nothing to do with providing an actual service.

Re:WTF? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46096695)

Why do we need such powerful military grade drones just to keep tabs on illegal aliens crossing our borders? A bunch of cheap quadcopters with infrared and other cameras could do the job.

You wouldn't want General Atomics to think that their stock price is dependent on keeping us involved in shithole sand-traps, would you?

Re:WTF? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46096905)

I was thinking along the lines of a Cessna 172 with pilot and observer. Or a couple to fly in shifts if 27 hours is important.

Re:WTF? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46097439)

Don't forget to integrate a marine radar and optical/infrared sensor ball [cbp.gov] into your Cessna.

Re:WTF? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46097653)

Like this [autoavia.com.au] ?

Re:WTF? (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 6 months ago | (#46097387)

Since it was far enough out to sea that getting it back to land was problematic, it was probably patrolling for drug runners, not illegal aliens. Those guys in the home built one-shot subs bringing in the Columbia coke, a thousand kilos at a time.

Because aerospace welfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097863)

Quadcopters wouldn't make nearly as much money for the aerospace industry as $12million/copy drones.

Why bother? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096157)

They're not deporting illegals. Anyone with political pull is on the verge of letting a bunch of known law breakers become citizens while law abiding immigrants are getting thrown under the bus. Just more federal government arm flexing with no real action and certainly no positive results.
 
This country is fucked.

Re:Why bother? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46096167)

But think of the contracts and the kick-backs. You're missing the BIG picture.

Re:Why bother? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#46096339)

Down let the door hit you in the back side on way out. XD

Administrative Note: the fence at the U.S. border is the dumbest design ever, it's not built to keep anyone in; It's kind of built to you out, in some places.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097281)

ur Engrish r good

Grounded, you say? (5, Funny)

dohzer (867770) | about 6 months ago | (#46096173)

Thanks for the heads up; see you on the other side.

Oddly enough (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46096181)

It will likely take a crash into a heavily populated area before drones are regulated much.

Has it occurred to the government how deadly effective these new toys could be in the wrong hands?

It's Superbowl week, just saying...

Exactly whose hands qualify as "the wrong" hands.. (1)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about 6 months ago | (#46096275)

Please complete this sentence:
I think they already [are/are not] in the wrong hands.

Re:Exactly whose hands qualify as "the wrong" hand (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#46096605)

Well, considering he notes that it's Superbowl week, I was thinking of San Francisco 49ers fans.

Re:Oddly enough (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46096277)

I have trouble just keeping track of all the blimps during superbowl week, and now I have to worry about drones too?

Re:Oddly enough (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 6 months ago | (#46096283)

already been done: BlackSunday...http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075765/

Re:Oddly enough (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 6 months ago | (#46096855)

Imagine a couple of dozen drones waiting in a couple of dozen garages just a few miles from the Super Bowl. They're all launched at the same time and they're all carrying explosives. It wouldn't take long for them to reach their target. Can we expect the security in and around the stadium to stop all of them? That's why I'm not going to the game. Call it self-preservation. Too many nutcases in the world and just too risky.

Re:Oddly enough (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46098117)

That's why I'm not going to the game. Call it self-preservation.

Or paranoia.

Too many nutcases in the world and just too risky.

...said the TSA as they asked for a doubling of their funding.

Stuxnet redux (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 6 months ago | (#46096195)

Maybe it was Iran (or a Mexican cartel) busting the RSA-based encryption that scared the Border Patrol.
One hundred twenty million dollars for 10 drones. It probably came out of the US' food stamp budget.

Sabotage?.. (3, Interesting)

mi (197448) | about 6 months ago | (#46096435)

If sabotaging one border-patrolling drone grounds all the rest of them, what better way to help those poor aliens sneak into the US — illegally?

Anti-drone drone (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46096649)

How long until the Mexican drug cartels start contracting out for anti-drone drones?

If $10,000 buys an anti-drone drone, it would be a cheap way to take out a $12M drone and rack up huge expenses on the American side.

Amateurs have already built a 366mph jet powered UAV (faster than the MQ-9 drone) - I'm sure on the international black market, better quality drones are already available. And they get bonus PR points if they can get the drone to crash on a populated area (or truck the remains of the crashed drone to a populated area) showing what a menace they are.

Re:Anti-drone drone (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46096703)

Isn't an 'anti-drone drone' called a 'surface to air missile'?

Re:Anti-drone drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097163)

Kill the operators. It's much cheaper.

Re:Anti-drone drone (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#46096749)

If $10,000 buys an anti-drone drone,

Surface to air missile? Like a stinger... costs around $40k??

Question is could it hit a drone? Military doing a strike...or surveillance? Hard to say.

Border patrol tailing civilians and cars... yeah I think maybe.

Re:Anti-drone drone (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46096779)

If $10,000 buys an anti-drone drone,

Surface to air missile? Like a stinger... costs around $40k??

Question is could it hit a drone? Military doing a strike...or surveillance? Hard to say.

Border patrol tailing civilians and cars... yeah I think maybe.

I assumed that traditional SAM's were out of reach for many organizations, but some guy in his basement could create a jet powered UAV for not a lot of money. Add a detonator to unfurl some wire cable, and you don't even need a direct hit to foul the propeller on a prop driven drone like the MQ-9.

Re:Anti-drone drone (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 6 months ago | (#46096875)

If $10,000 buys an anti-drone drone,

Surface to air missile? Like a stinger... costs around $40k??

Question is could it hit a drone? Military doing a strike...or surveillance? Hard to say.

Border patrol tailing civilians and cars... yeah I think maybe.

And given the height at which drones fly, you'll need something bigger than a Stinger (or a much cheaper SA-7). An SA 7 has a flight ceiling of 2,500 m and max range of 5 KM.

You could probably get some SA 2's relatively cheap (not sure how cheap, my black market contacts aren't what they used to be) but good luck hiding an SA2 launch site and accompanying RADAR array.

Re:Anti-drone drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097933)

They're called surface to air missiles. Most useful for this would be man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs). Apparently, you can buy a Strela-2 (SA-7 Grail) launcher and missile from the black market [fas.org] (PDF link) for US$5000 to $10,000.

"The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!" (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46096917)

It was the Tijuana Air Defense Network.

Horale Vatos!

Drone went down (1)

jennatalia (2684459) | about 6 months ago | (#46096937)

Went down to smell the fish.

20 mi SW of San Diego? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46096969)

That's right about the Coronado Islands which are in the waters of Mexico. Was the drone operating at sea? Perhaps looking for high speed pangas running pot and cocaine to California? If they were flying over the border on land, why couldn't they have landed at Halsey Field or Miramar NAS?

Cost (3, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#46097019)

[commie]

Wonder how many school lunches you could have served to poor kids for twelve million dollars.

[/commie]

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097271)

Wonder how many lives get ruined by illicit drugs. It's like saying the government could save money by closing schools and police stations.

Re:Cost (4, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | about 6 months ago | (#46097333)

A large number of lives ruined by illicit drugs are ruined because the government spends a huge amount of money to ruin them. Stop spending money to throw people in jail over minor drug infractions, or money driving people away from getting help for their problems (for fear of jail), or money spent driving addicts to ever-more-harmful worst-case toxic concoctions, and those illicit drugs will ruin many fewer lives.

Re:Cost (4, Informative)

SacredNaCl (545593) | about 6 months ago | (#46097619)

A large number of lives ruined by illicit drugs are ruined because the government spends a huge amount of money to ruin them. Stop spending money to throw people in jail over minor drug infractions, or money driving people away from getting help for their problems (for fear of jail), or money spent driving addicts to ever-more-harmful worst-case toxic concoctions, and those illicit drugs will ruin many fewer lives.

Probably far more lives are ruined due to their illegality than if we simply had stopped at the pure food and drug act, and left it at that.

Re:Cost (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46098121)

Go back to Russia, com-! Oh, you did that one already.

Re:Cost (1)

wjh31 (1372867) | about 6 months ago | (#46098277)

if you do lunch for say $2 each, then you could get 6 million lunches, which covers about a third of all the poor children in the us for one meal for one day. (http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/)

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097103)

I was going to write something really derogatory about Obama but this story just rocks shit loads.

Yea, like, i'm really sorry.

Guess these thing really are going to replace the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46097261)

Airforce.

Somewhere out there... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 6 months ago | (#46098243)

...a licensed drone hunter is celebrating and punching his tag. Too bad he won't be able to retrieve and field dress his kill.
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