Great Falls Tribune: Canada to share data on low-flying aircraft

The U.S. and Canada are expected to begin coordinating the use of radar to detect low-flying aircraft along their border by November, a top U.S. customs official said Tuesday.

Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said 22 military radar facilities operated by Canada will be combined with the radar the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration use to track low-flying aircraft crossing the border illegally.

Earlier this year, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., led a bipartisan effort in the Senate, pushing the departments of Homeland Security and Defense to expand a pilot project that found the use of small, low-flying airplanes in cross-border drug smuggling is more widespread than previously thought.

After Bersin made the announcement Tuesday, Tester said in a release that the use of military-grade radar will improve safety in Montana’s border communities and across the state by allowing federal Homeland Security air operations to better identify and intercept aircraft illegally crossing the border.

“Our law enforcement officers and border agents will have an effective new tool to keep a better eye on the border, and to get in front of illegal crossings,” said Tester, a member of the Homeland Security Committee. “This is a smart, cost-effective and common sense way to keep making our communities safer — both from illegal drug threats and terrorist threats.”

Read the whole article >>