Monday, September 17, 2012
A surrogate semi-submersible engineered to mimic the design of drug-running vessels is helping the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate develop better devices to detect them. Called "Pluto," it's homeported at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and being kept operational by the 46th Test Squadron. The vessels are popularly called "narco subs," build by South American drug cartels. They are actually low-riders, barely visible on the surface of the ocean. The Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force and other federal agencies are using Pluto to test remote sensing capabilities on the 45-foot long vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific. (Source: Department of Homeland Security, 09/16/12) Eglin is best known as the base where the Air Force develops and tests aerial weapons, and more recently as home of the F-35 training center.