Border-Scanning Radar Tech Tested

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Radar surveillance technology is being tested along the Arizona-Mexico border to detect illegal immigrants.

The system was developed under a contract with the Air Force by Scottsdale-based Sensor Technologies and Systems Inc. It's being tested for 12 to 18 months, STS President Walker Butler said.

The company has been doing trials in southwestern Arizona for several months and plans to add a site in southeastern Arizona within the next several weeks, he said.

Testing of the technology is a component of the Arizona Border Control Initiative - an effort to add more agents and better technology to deter illegal entries.

The initiative already uses remote-controlled aerial drones and infrared thermal imaging cameras to search for migrants and smugglers.

A problem with the Border Patrol's current ground system is that daytime and infrared cameras on poles are fixed on areas where agents think immigrants will cross, Butler said. Unlike infrared cameras alone, radar can scan 360 degrees.

With the radar system, sensors are placed above the cameras and wired to control where the cameras scan. Once something is detected, sensors activate an alarm and focus cameras on what set it off. That's helpful for border agents staring at multiple TV screens for hours, Butler said.