Water Guardian

The US Customs and Border Protection on Dec. 7 took delivery of its first Guardian remotely piloted aircraft at a ceremony in Palmdale, Calif. This aircraft, which CBP’s Air and Marine branch is pursuing in cooperation with the Coast Guard, is a variant of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator B system optimized for over-water surveillance. Air and Marine already operates Predator Bs from bases in Arizona and North Dakota to surveil the US northern and southern borders. In a CBP release Dec. 7, Michael Kostelnik, Air and Marine assistant commissioner, called the Guardian “a powerful tool and force multiplier to increase maritime domain awareness and confront threats” to US borders. The Guardian is expected to enter operational testing early next year, after which it will patrol US waters in a counter-narcotics role. (See also the Los Angeles Times’ Dec. 8 report.)