Predator Drones to Patrol U.S.-Canada Border Starting Next Month

December 8, 2008

John Candy in Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon MovieDust off that old copy of Michael Moore’s Canadian Bacon and take a trip down memory lane — along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It’s showtime! Despite the crashes of many unmanned Predator B drones — both along the the U.S.-Mexico border and in Iraq and Afghanistan — and despite the Predator’s poor performance record in inclement weather, U.S. Customs has decided to try their luck with drone border patrol in the sunny climes of. . .North Dakota. The first of several Predator B drones will begin patrolling the northern U.S. border at night next month, operating out of the Grand Forks Air Force Base in Grand Forks, ND.
Governor John Hoeven of North DakotaThe first of the Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) landed Saturday at the Grand Forks AFB after a six-hour trip from Libby Army Airfield in Sierra Vista, Arizona. (A Friday flight to Grand Forks was canceled due to inclement weather.) Republican Governor John Hoeven said that “The arrival of the Predator System on the northern border marks a milestone, not only for North Dakota, but for the nation. We have forged strong partnerships and supported this mission with state resources. We will continue to support it as we work to establish Grand Forks as a leader for unmanned aerial systems operations.”


Americans See a Threat Under Every Rock in Canadian BaconIn late 2006, the U.S. unveiled a plan to increase security along the northern border, including the use of Predators to support ground personnel. In 2007, the CBP opened its Grand Forks Air Branch, the fourth of five such branches along the U.S.-Canadian border. This is the longest common border in the world, at nearly 5,525 miles. Manufactured by San Diego, California-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the drone flies at speeds of up to 260 mph for more than 18 hours, at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet. It weighs in at five tons and has a 66-foot wingspan. Each drone costs approximately $6.5 million.


Sometimes, as they say, the truth is stranger than fiction. In Canadian Bacon, the American economy — and the President’s approval rating — have both tanked. Alan Alda, who plays the President, decides that a good war is just the ticket to get everyone jazzed. But Russia isn’t interested, so a crisis is manufactured with Canada. Sheriff Bud Boomer, played by John Candy, sees “evil-doers” under every rock. Watch the movie. It’s better than the reality.

Democratic Senator Kent Conrad of North DakotaSen. Kent Conrad (D-Nd.) commented: “It is vital to America’s security that we protect our borders, particularly the northern border. The Grand Forks Air Branch plays an essential role in helping shut the door on terrorists who want to sneak across remote border points to strike on U.S. soil.” Now if only we didn’t have all our sieve-like ports, and unprotected agricultural resources, and unprotected water supplies and. . .well, you get the picture.

Read about the tempest in a teapot created when Mexico reclaimed the American Southwest in an Absolut vodka ad.

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