It looks like the US government has shiny toys, and defense contractors are getting paid, but border drones cost $12,255 per hour to operate - and aren't very effective in detecting human smuggling or drug running.
The DHS has a fleet of 10 Predator B drones that are used to patrol selected locations of the US-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas, however, they logged just 5,102 hours of the planned 23,296 total flight hours per year. The DHS has invested $360 million into the program since 2005, and the department wants to spend upwards of $443 million for another 14 drones.
"Notwithstanding the significant investment, we see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border, and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time," said John Roth, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, in a statement.
However, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman defended the program, saying it has achieved or exceeded all relevant performance expectations."