Famed for their killing ability in Afghanistan, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones also are flying the U.S. skies, on the U.S.-Mexican, experimentally above some seaports, to help fight California wild fires and up along the Canadian border. Just released is the word back in November, two of the northern border patrolling drones were grounded because of software problems. The incident, not publicized, underlines a growing concern in the United States that more extensive use of UAVs for homeland security and law enforcement could lead in dangerous situations on the ground. In war situations, Predators are often armed while smaller Raptors are not. Both versions carry multiple video cameras. In Great Britain, where no security camera seems to go unused, there are plans to use drones for more traditional law enforcement assignments. In the U.S., the FAA has not licensed commercial use of UAVs except for individually-approved use in fighting wild fires in California. Nonmilitary drones can be purchased through manufacturers and on the Internet but, in the U.S. and some other countries, they can be flown. Uniquely, some, including the Raptor, has been hand-launched but their time in the sky is very limited when compared to big brother Predators. Some security practitioners believe, and some of them conflicted, that drones will one day be a law enforcement tool in big, urban cities, to track ganags, to rural villages, to identify meth labs.
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