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US Navy experimenting with drones and blimps to fight Caribbean drug smugglers

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Aerostat (Wikimedia)
Aerostat (Wikimedia)

In the wake of budget cuts, the US Navy is turning to older technology in the war on drugs. As the Associated Press reports, last week the Navy began testing two new tools to monitor and capture drug smugglers in the Caribbean: the blimp-like aerostat, which has previously been used for surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan as well to monitor the US-Mexico border, and a drone that's launched from the deck of a ship by hand. While both are relatively older technologies, they've been outfitted with radar, cameras, and sensors that reportedly expand a ship's radar range from five miles to around 50 miles.

"Being able to see them and watch what they are doing even before we get there is going to give us an edge," Chief Chris Sinclair told the AP. The devices are also relatively cheap. While no actual figures were detailed, the AP reports that the drones and aerostat be "a fraction of the cost" compared to the standard helicopters and aircrafts typically used for this type of surveillance.