A military surveillance drone, used in Middle Eastern wars, is about to take flight and patrol the English Channel, searching for migrants with its high-tech sensors, reported The Daily Telegraph.
The Watchkeeper unmanned air system has provided UK armed forces with aerial surveillance support in Iraq and Afghanistan for years.
The drone will be launched from Lydd Airport in Kent, England. Members of the 7th Regiment Royal Artillery will operate the aircraft and provide a live feed of the sea surface back to base for further analysis.
Deployment of the drone comes as the British government vowed to strengthen border measures as a record number of migrants illegally crossed the channel in the first eight months of 2020.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying:
“The deployment of Watchkeeper provides further defense support to the Home Office in tackling the increasing number of small boats crossing the English Channel.
“It will provide a leading surveillance and reconnaissance capability, feeding information back to the Border Force and allowing them to take appropriate action where necessary,” MoD said.
Watchkeeper UAV is capable of carrying a range of sensors for day and night missions; radars will help it detect vessels on the surface of the water as the country must beef up its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the channel due to an eruption in migrant inflows over the last two years.
The waters between France and England are becoming Europe’s next watery graveyard for refugees, many of whom are packed into small vessels, at risk of capsizing in the rough waters of the channel. These folks are from war-torn countries such as Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, Iran, Kuwait, Egypt, Chad, Mali, and Iraq, seeking a better life in Europe.
The deployment of the drone appears to be the UK government attempting to strengthen border measures as the migrant crisis continues to affect Southern Europe.