U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be displaying the world's only fully operational maritime variant MQ-9 Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), the Guardian, next week at the world's largest aviation trade show in Paris.
The Department of Defense U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Embassy in Paris requested that the Guardian attend the air show. EUCOM is providing strategic airlift of the Guardian from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to Le Bourget, France, onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17.
On June 19, the air show will open to Congressional delegations. The trade show will be open to military and trade officials June 20. The show is open to the general public June 24 where more than 140 aircraft will be on display and 2,000 international exhibitors and 88 countries will be represented.
The Paris Air Show presents a special opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the UAS to support homeland security missions and reinforce industry and government awareness of the significant role CBP aviation plays in securing our nation.
The Guardian began operational testing and evaluation in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in February 2010 and began conducting missions in April.
CBP procured the remotely-piloted aircraft to enhance the agency's long-range maritime surveillance, detection and targeting capabilities in the source and transit zones of the Eastern Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, as well as support anti-terror efforts along maritime smuggling routes.
Currently, CBP has five Predator B aircraft and two Guardian aircraft operating from strategic locations around the United States. Two additional Predator B aircraft are scheduled for delivery by December and third Guardian is scheduled for delivery in early 2012.
Since the inception of the CBP UAS program, the Office of Air and Marine has flown more than 10,000 hours, responding to requests for support from CBP ground agents and in support of CBP partners in disaster relief and emergency response, including various state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This past spring, the agency was honored with a the Aviation Week and Space Technology Laureate Award, for innovation and pioneering work in successfully adopting a marine search radar to an unmanned aircraft.