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CBP vendor to assess operations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems over Southwest desert

CBP is looking for a contractor that can help it evaluate the feasibility of using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to monitor the movement of human intruders into the United States along the U.S.-Mexican border.

CBP’s office of air and marine currently operates such UAS along the nation’s land borders and maritime approaches. “This ongoing effort has proven to be successful in providing surveillance and actionable intelligence to DHS’ ground/surface operators, but also has highlighted the difficulty of detecting small objects (humans) and other targets of interest over large areas, such as the Southwestern desert, at night,” explains a recently-released draft statement of work for what CBP calls its Wide Area Aerial Surveillance System.

Once selected, the contractor will be expected to conduct a minimum of five consecutive days of flight tests -- including night-time operations -- during which it will examine airborne sensors over Nogales, AZ (or another site chosen by CBP.) The contractor will assess the performance and capabilities of various sensors; sensor concept of operations (CONOPS); sensor controls; communications systems and data storage.

The Wide Area Aerial Surveillance System (WAASS) currently operates primarily “over urban and rural terrain,” says CBP’s statement of work. However, the use of such unmanned aircraft over the Southwestern desert will perform a different mission.

“The surveillance system shall have an electro-optical capability for daylight missions but can have an infrared capability for day or night operations,” explains the S.O.W. “The sensor shall integrate with an airborne platform for data gathering. The imagery data shall be displayed at a DHS operations center and have the capability for forensic analysis within 36-to-48 hours of the flight.”


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