Preditor B drones employed by CBP to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over 1,200 miles of the Texas-Mexico border and along the Texas Gulf Coast, according to an announcement this week. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can now permanently station a remotely-piloted aircraft in Texas. This will be the first UAV based and operated in Texas, reportedly to help combat illegal activity along the Texas-Mexico border.
Earlier this month, CBP began flying a remotely-piloted aircraft based in Arizona over a portion of West Texas. FAA's most recent approval will allow CBP to fly over the remainder of the Texas-Mexico border betweenEl Paso and Brownsville along the Rio Grande. In addition, CBP will patrol the state's coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. The remotely-piloted aircraft, known as a Predator B, can fly for up to 20 hours and provide to CBP real-time intelligence information from attached cameras, sensors and radar systems.
CBP plans to place the Texas-based UAV at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. For six months, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and other Texas lawmakers have worked to bring the UAV program to Texas. Cuellar is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.
Many border citizen-residents resent the increasing militarization of their communities. Critics claim that government contracts with the weapons industries drive U.S. policy and procedures.
According to CBP, A & M currently operates five Predator B UAS's. Four fly from the UAS Operations Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona and one from the UAS Operations Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Since 2005 Predator Bs have flown more than 1,500 hours in support of border security missions and have assisted in the apprehension of more than 4,000 undocumented immigrants and the seizure of more than 15,000 pounds of marijuana.
For more information on the CBP UAV program, visit the CBP website.