Frontex eyes drones to further war on immigration

Nieuws, gepost door: Campagne tegen Wapenhandel op 26/03/2012 03:11:24

Wanneer: 26/03/2012 - 10:46

Last September the European Parliament granted EU border control agency Frontex the right to purchase its own equipment, such as navy ships and helicopters. Before Frontex was depending on EU member states defence and police forces for its equipment. The decision of the European Parliament opened up new profit opportunities for the arms industry.
While no orders so far have become public, several military companies started courting Frontex, especially with offers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones).

Lockheed Martin demonstrated the use of an optionally piloted vehicle for border surveillance tasks in November last year. For this demonstration the company was paid 30,000 euros by Frontex. An interesting concept: marketing paid by those teased to buy. "Lockheed Martin presented an affordable, integrated solution tailored to address specific European border management requirements," said Jim Quinn of Lockheed Martin.

Two months later French Thales and Spanish Aerovision presented their Fulmar UAV to Frontex during a trial at the Aktio Airbase in Greece. According to the press release more companies were presenting their drones at this event, names are not mentioned. The Fulmar is already in use by for border surveillance tasks by Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca.

Just last month Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) showed its Heron UAV to Frontex, again in Greece. Militaries all over the world are operating the Heron. The Israeli Defence Forces relied heavily on the use of UAVs, including the Heron, during the Gaza conflict of December 2008 and January 2009, when the use of drones resulted into at least 87 civilian deaths. Author and activist David Cronin criticised Frontex for recruiting "Israel’s war machine […] to stop impoverished foreigners from reaching the European Union."

For a workshop in Bulgaria in April on “Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) potential for European border surveillance and SAR operations”, Frontex once again invites “industry to present its latest achievements in this domain.

The agency and military companies are meeting up elsewhere as well.

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