U.S. Customs and Border Protection received an unmanned aircraft today, the fourth at National Air Security Operations Center in Sierra Vista, Ariz. Flights performed from this location will provide critical aerial surveillance to CBP border security personnel on the ground along the Southwest border.
The arrival of the Predator-B marks the second of two unmanned aircraft earmarked in the supplemental budget provisions identified in August 2010.
On the southwest border, CBP now operates a total of six Predator-B aircraft from Sierra Vista, and Corpus Christi. The missions from these two centers will allow CBP to deploy its unmanned aircraft from the eastern tip of California across the Mexican land borders of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
CBP identified Arizona as a location for its ninth UAS because it will allow for the greatest support of the CBP Strategic Plan to secure the shared land border between U.S. and Mexico, and will allow for the most effective execution of counter-drug operations and Homeland Security missions.
Since the inception of the program, CBP has flown more than 12,000 UAS hours in support of border security operations and CBP partners in disaster relief and emergency response. The efforts of this program has led to the total seizure of approximately 46,600 pounds of illicit drugs and the detention of approximately 7,500 individuals suspected in engaging in illegal activity along the Southwest border.