Last update: 05-Dec-2013 8:03 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Drones go into action next year
By the middle of next year, T&T is expected to have at least two of the four drones the government has planned to acquire, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday. But he said it was still too early to determine the cost, as the tendering process for the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, has just started. “I don’t want to deal with dollars and cents as yet,” he said.
“At the end of the day there is a tendering process pertaining to the acquisition of the drones. The tenders have not started as yet, but I assure that the public will be kept well informed.” Griffith described the drone as an aerial surveillance mechanism which is very sophisticated. “It is to be used primarily for access for intelligence-gathering and to assist harbourmasters in sting operations,” he said.
“It is also used to monitor individuals or groups used in the trade-off of illegal weapons and drug...they are going to be very powerful pieces of equipment.” Expressing confidence that the drones would turn “night into day,” the National Security Minister said the drones were one of the many “new” crime-fighting initiatives he expected to implement. “We are looking at purchasing four drones in all, but definitely it would be two in the first instance,” he added.
Griffith said the drones would be used throughout the country, with special emphasis on the coastal areas, as weapons and narcotics usually entered via the many unmanned ports of entry. There has been much controversy surrounding the use of drones. US President Barack Obama defended the use of drones against terrorist targets, saying they were “effective, legal, life-saving and a necessary tool in an evolving US counterterrorism policy.” Obama also confirmed that drone strikes had killed Americans abroad.
However, a growing number of legislators in the US Congress are seeking to limit the deadly drone strikes, which have targeted a wider range of threats than initially anticipated. Griffith made it clear that T&T’s drones would not be equipped with rocket launchers and other weaponry, saying they would be used specifically for the purpose of intelligence gathering. On the difference between the drones and the blimp, he said since the drones were much smaller in size they were harder to spot.
“The blimp is very overt, so it would have been very difficult for the blimp to be successful in covert intelligence surveillance, because it was easily viewed,” Griffith said. “The drone is very small and it can actually stay in one location and lock into that one location to gather intelligence.”
What is a drone?
It’s a remote-controlled pilotless aircraft. Drones are typically used in military and special operation applications. However, recently some countries have implemented their use for surveillance as part of a policing and firefighting combat initiative, and it is expected they will play a similar role in the fight against crime in this country.
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