Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homeland Security seeking clearance to fly drones over Texas

Drones may be sent soon to help with border security, Napolitano says

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The federal government may soon send unmanned aircraft to scour West Texas and the state's coastal waters in an effort to boost border security, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a letter to the governor sent Friday.

Perry had formally requested the assistance a week ago. The need also was underscored in a phone call that Democratic nominee Bill White had with Napolitano on Thursday.

Homeland Security has six drones and is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to get the necessary clearance to begin flying over Texas, Napolitano wrote.

Before operations start, ground control stations, pilots, sensor operators and maintenance support have to be allocated. She said that the governor would be kept apprised of the progress.

"This is encouraging news, and we are hopeful that this technology and additional federal resources will be deployed to Texas as soon as possible," said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger.

Perry has complained that the federal government has not done enough to secure the border, especially in light of escalating drug violence in Mexico border towns.

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