MQ-9B Guardian

General Atomic's MQ-9B Maritime UAS variant, the "Guardian," is in service with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The Guardian features structural, avionics, and communications enhances to the basic MQ-9B airframe. Raytheon's Seavue radar system provides the Guardian an inverse synthetic aperture radar and weather detection and avoidance capablities. Guardian also carries an upgraded MTS-B electro-optical/infrared sensor with laser illuminator/rangefinder, and an automatic identification system (AIS).

CPB's Office of Air and Marine (OAM) operates one Guardian from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas and one from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. OAM Guardians fly long range counter-narcotics patrols in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea transit zones. In June of 2012, a Guardian operating in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico supported the seizure of a ton of marijuana and 3,730 pounds of cocaine.

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Homeland Security Grounds Unmanned Air Vehicles After Crash

28 January 2014 - A maritime version of the MQ-9B flown by Customs and Border protection was deliberately crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles from San Diego, California after 11 p.m. local time on the night of January 27.  CBP spokesman Michael Friel announced that after noticing mechanical problems, "the crew determined that the UAS would be unable to return to where it originated in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and put the aircraft down in the water." The fleet of ten CBP MQ-9s has been grounded while the incident is under investigation.

Video of Customs and Border Patrol MQ-9B Guardian.

Links

CBP Guardian Fact Sheet