US to install ‘virtual wall’ to stop drug-carrying drones from entering the borders

The U.S. government partnered with Citadel Defense, a counter-drone technology company, to build a “virtual wall” that prevents drones carrying drugs, contrabands, and other illegal objects into the United States through the southern borders into Texas, Arizona, and California. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded the contract to the company to use their Titan Counter Drone defense solution, which practically creates a virtual barrier that stops drones from passing through. The move is part of the on-going campaign of the CBP to stop contrabands from being smuggled into the U.S. borders through unmanned drones that can bypass border controls. 

Citadel Defense is a counter-drone (CUAS) technology company that builds industry-leading drone mitigation solutions for military, homeland security and commercial applications. The company has previously partnered with different law enforcement agencies like U.S. Special Forces, Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and Coast Guard. 

“A virtual wall protecting the southern border has been an on-going goal of the U.S. Government – CBPs decision to use Citadel’s unmanned counter-drone solution is a step towards achieving this cost-efficient and protective goal,” reads an email sent by Gülay Navarro, a spokesperson from Citadel Defense. 

Drones and other unmanned devices have been used by drug cartels to transport illegal contraband, and help migrants illegally cross the border, the press release from the company explained. They said that the CBP would leverage the company’s “proven” solution to prevent drones from compromising border security. 

Citadel Titan systems, which serves as a virtual wall, have been successfully tested, validated, and deployed across 15+ countries, said the company in the email. According to Citadel Defense, the technology has been vetted, tested and approved by the U.S. Special Forces, Air Force, Army, Navy, Defense Innovation Unit, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, FAA, and government-funded Science & Technology labs. They said that these agencies have evaluated and operationally tested the technology. 

Citadel’s CEO, Christopher Williams, said that the deployment of counter-drones systems is important because it improves the effectiveness of CBP patrols while simultaneously increasing the safety of patrolling agents. 

“Drones have become a greater challenge along the border. Our nation’s border agents deserve the safest and most advanced technology available. Citadel’s automated solution provides front-line operators with an awareness of drone threats and decision-making to respond faster than the adversary,” Williams said. 

The company has worked with the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Aviation Administration in designing the technology “to minimize interference with communication signals and surrounding electronics.”

Born out of their research and development efforts, Citadel Titan is a small, lightweight apparatus that is portable and can be attacked in fixed locations, thus ensuring that it gets maximum coverage. It can also be used aboard security vehicles, or for dismounted operation at high-risk locations. 

“CBP’s decision to award Citadel’s contract is based on deep technical validation, operational combat assessments, and mission-enhancing deployments,” the press release reads. According to the company, in order to resolve the problems brought by drones, the U.S. government should be able to leverage existing technology. Moreover, they said that Titan’s ability to work in a different environment while controlling the interference it creates to other systems makes it the best option available in the market. 

The company and CBP are currently working hand-in-hand in order to integrate the counter-drone system into other technological infrastructure of the CBP. The U.S. government is also moving to refine its policies in order to leverage other technological innovations, like that of Citadel Defense, and to use them in a multitude of security and defense operations. 

“In partnership with the Media, Citadel Defense looks forward to helping the U.S. Government and commercial industry to help address the urgent threat that drones have on National Security,” the company said. 

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