Saturday, October 15, 2011

UAVs Given Policing Role As Border Control Becomes Key Focus

Defense Secretary Andres Allamand confirmed Chile has acquired unmanned aerial vehicles from Elbit Systems in a deal finalized during visits to Israel and Norway last month. The Hermes 900 UAVs will join Chile's efforts to beef up its border security, namely to curb illegal drug trafficking. The border with Bolivia is especially troublesome, with more than 100 unguarded passes. The Hermes UAVs can be equipped with optics such as thermal imaging cameras and other sensors for that task. Chile's defense and interior ministries have launched Plan Frontera Norte (Plan Northern Border), which includes purchasing ground radars, thermal imaging systems for land and sea surveillance, and command and control systems. The cost was put at $10 million, and the equipment will be handled by the national police. The plan is the latest example of how Chile's security focus is shifting from traditional defense to internal and C3 (command, control, communications) areas. Internal security problems such as education-reform protests and the rebellion of indigenous people are being handled in conventional ways (mainly riot control). But the fight against drugs takes high-tech equipment, which is where more funds are being allocated.

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