Thursday 29 September 2022

US State Dept. providing drones, training to Costa Rica’s anti-drug effort

The US State Department is dispatching a fleet of drones to Costa Rica as part of a program it hopes will allow local authorities to crack down on international drug trafficking in the country.

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The U.S. State Department says it plans on supplying Skydio drones and training to police forces in Costa Rica as part of their ongoing effort to battle drug trafficking in and out of the nation.

The project calls for an initial fleet of eight small uncrewed aerial systems (sUAS) to be delivered to Costa Rican police, whose members will be schooled in piloting and use of the craft in surveillance missions.

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If the initial set of craft proves useful in fighting the illegal drug trade, the US may increase the size of the fleet to 40 drones or more.

The drone operation is being supported and overseen by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), which monitors and works with efforts of foreign countries in fighting drug trafficking. As part of that, INL supplies appropriate equipment and training to foreign law enforcement authorities. In this case, that means delivering an “initial tranche of eight Skydio X2D quadcopters in fourth quarter 2021, with a possible growth up to 40 or more multi-copter systems,” an INL filing on the project says.

“INL seeks to develop a comprehensive training, certification, standardization, and management system for (Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Security’s) sUAS program. INL plans to follow a modular approach to building the sUAS training, standardization, and management system through a series of independent contracts,” it continues, noting Costa Rica does not have a standing military, but instead ensures security using a series of national law enforcement organizations.

“The sUAS training and standardization system should NOT be based on a military model; but rather, incorporate best practices from sUAS operations in industry and community policing.”

As part of its instruction program, INL is preparing pilot training, certification, and standard operating procedure modules, and will provide a sUAS expert to assist with those. It will also teach basic police operation of drones, and intermediate development of those skills. It will similarly provide hardware and know-how for fleet and pilot management systems.

“All deliverables should maximize the use of commercial off the shelf material to minimize development costs,” the filing says – adding all documentation and instruction for Costa Rica’s drone-led battle against drug trafficking must be in Spanish.

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