Israeli-Made Mexican Drone Parachutes Into Texas
Department of Homeland Security officials said Friday that the unmanned aerial vehicle that crash landed in El Paso Tuesday was an Israeli-built Mexican-government-operated drone and that it's no cause for alarm. The UAV reportedly went off course during a test flight, fell out of control and landed under parachute largely undamaged in a suburban yard less than one half-mile from the U.S.-Mexico border. The single-engine Orbiter Mini UAV has a wingspan of about seven feet; it flies at roughly 50 knots, powered by a brushless electric motor that can carry it to about 18,000 feet. It is capable of autonomous launch and recovery, four hours of endurance, and can carry a payload of up to 3.3 pounds. The aircraft can be outfitted with an advanced data link system for surveillance purposes. According to U.S. officials who spoke to the media, none of it is cause for concern.
"There is nothing to support that they were spying on us," an U.S. official told CNN. "There is nothing to cause alarm or suspicion." The vehicle was reportedly returned to the Mexican government by U.S. Border Patrol officers in coordination with multiple other agencies. U.S. sources have said the Mexican government was using the Orbiter Mini UAV for surveillance of the border. A spokesman for NORAD told CNN the agency was tracking the vehicle in real time and did not consider it to be a threat. A citizen reported the crash and Border Patrol agents responded. The vehicle determined to be the property of the Mexican government and was returned to Mexican officials at an international bridge. A spokesman for local U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes said the congressman's office is looking into the incident.