The residents of Craddock Avenue in El Paso, Texas, got a surprise Tuesday when a Mexican drone crashed into the backyard of one of their neighbors.
The residents of Craddock Avenue in El Paso, Texas, got a surprise early Tuesday evening when a Mexican drone crashed into the backyard of one of their neighbors near the border with Mexico.
The El Paso Times tries to make sense of the wreckage :
[National Transportation Safety Board Spokesman] Keith Holloway said the aircraft that crossed into U.S. airspace is a mini orbiter unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the Aeronautics Defense System.
According to the developer's website, the aircraft is designed for use in military and Homeland Security missions. It can be used for reconnaissance missions, low-intensity conflicts and urban warfare.
Officials at the Mexican consul's office in El Paso did not call back to provide details about what kind of operation the drone was a part of, how long drones have been in use or which government agency controlled it.
"We are collecting data about the crash. We don't have the aircraft because it was returned to its owner," said Keith Holloway, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), told the Times. The NTSB investigates aviation crashes inside the United States.
(For more on how El Paso handles its violent neighbor, see December's cover story, "Bordering on Danger ," by Associate Editor Matthew Harwood.)
The drone known as the Orbiter Mini UAV System is manufactured by the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems, which also is listed as Aeronautics ltd on its Web site . According to the specs listed on its Web site, the Orbiter can fly as high as 18,000 feet at speeds of 70 knots for three to four hours per flight.
Officials at Mexico's consul office in El Paso did not return calls from the Times seeking comment. Federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the office of Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), El Paso's congressional representative, also disclosed little information of the crash.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Press Officer Roger Maier told TPMMuckraker in an e-mail , "CBP/U.S. Border Patrol responded to a concerned citizen's call and recovered a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle... which belonged to the Government of Mexico (GOM). We worked collaboratively with the GOM and other U.S. federal agencies to coordinate the return of the UAV to GOM."
The Times also reports that www.defenseindustrydaily.com had earlier reported that Aeronautics Defense Systems in 2009 planned on selling Mexico's federal police $22 million worth of its Skystar 300 surveillance aerostats and small Orbiter UAVs to help the government fight the country's notorious cartels that many analysts consider a narcoinsurgency.
♦ Picture of a United States Marine Corp Scan Eagle UAV, a similar drone to the Orbiter, by Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing/WikiMediaCommons