European Commission plans spyplanes to patrol EU  borders

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The Russians are already doing it. The Belgians are already doing it. The Americans are doing it and are planning to vastly increase their activity by this method.

Now the European Commission (EC) is planning to do it.

Border control is becoming a very serious concern in all western economies these days. There are many reasons, and some controversy as to how and why. But, there is little doubt that increased border security between countries and regions is part of the reality of the 21st Century.

Developed by various militaries over the past decades, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become extremely sophisticated, cheap and reliable. Now countries are beginning to use civilian versions for various tasks. And the EC this month has revealed plans to implement a fleet to patrol the borders of the entire European Union.

The ideal border patrol agent, they can soar several hundred or several thousand meters above the earth. Small, lightweight, cheap and reliable, they are fitted with sophisticated modern electronics, cameras and other sensors and can be programmed to fly in set patterns to report back anything they observe.

Belgium has been using a small fleet to patrol tankers and ocean traffic in the North Sea. Several have been caught dumping waste illegally and prosecutions follow. Russia is already flying UAVs to patrol her borders, finding a use for cold war technology to utilize their investment.

In conflict zones around the world these have become one of the more valuable allies of various militaries, of especial note being Britain and America in the Iraq conflict.

The EC is implementing a £1 billion plan to tighten borders against illegal immigration and against terrorism. A fleet of spyplanes will be one part of the sophisticated, hi technology surveillance equipment used to equip European police, customs agents and border patrols.

The first focus will be in especially troublesome areas such as the English Channel, the Mediterranean coasts and the Balkans where illegal immigrants try to enter the EU and take advantage of the open border policy.

There are several more research projects along with this one that will begin toward the end of this year and ramp up at the beginning of 2007. Some are more controversial, but UAVs seem relatively benign and valuable, so it is likely this phase will be implemented without serious resistance.