The U.S. Border Patrol has received its first Guardian UAV. This is a modified version of the MQ-9 Reaper (a 4.7 ton, 36 foot long aircraft with a 66 foot wingspan that looks like the MQ-1 Predator). The Guardian is equipped with satellite communications, a maritime radar, day/night video camera and electronics that enable it to receive data from the Automated Identification System (AIS) transponder all seagoing ships of over 300 gross tons are supposed to carry. Guardian can also be used for search and rescue missions. It's night camera detects differences in heat, and thus can pick out people adrift at sea. The endurance of Guardian is 30 hours, another valuable characteristic during any kind of search operation.
The Border Patrol will receive another Guardian next year, and plans to buy a third.