As Drone Debate Rages, Police Move on to Million-Dollar Spy Planes
Wired — While the nation disputes if, when and where the government should use drones over U.S. soil, Texas state police are taking their surveillance efforts to the next level.
In a little-noticed July purchase, officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety inked a $7.4 million contract with the Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. for a high-altitude spy plane. Unique technology affixed to the state’s new aircraft could raise the ire of civil libertarians and privacy advocates.
Among its features is a $1 million array of surveillance cameras with high-resolution and thermal-imaging capabilities, and a $300,000 downlink system that enables the plane’s crew to send real-time surveillance images anywhere in the state, according to records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting through the Texas Public Information Act. The package will also come with four sets of night-vision goggles worth about $60,000, records show.