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US tries new aerial tools in Caribbean drug fight

April 28, 2013 • World News


U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris looks at a balloon-like craft known as an aerostat that is attached to the back of his high speed vessel Swift docked in Key West, Florida, Friday, April 26, 2013. The U.S. Navy on Friday began testing two new aerial tools, borrowed from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, that officials say will make it easier to detect, track and videotape drug smugglers in action. (AP Photo/Ben Fox)

ABOARD THE HIGH SPEED VESSEL SWIFT (AP) — Drug smugglers who race across the Caribbean in speedboats will typically jettison their cargo when spotted by surveillance aircraft, hoping any chance of prosecuting them will vanish with the drugs sinking to the bottom of the sea.

That may be a less winning tactic in the future. The U.S. Navy on Friday began testing two new aerial tools, borrowed from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, that officials say will make it easier to detect, track and videotape drug smugglers in action.

One of the devices on display aboard the High Speed Vessel Swift is a large, white balloon-like craft known as an aerostat, which is tethered up to 2,000 feet (600 meters) above the ship’s stern. The other tool on board for tests in the Florida Straits is a type of drone that can be launched by hand from the deck.

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