By Jim Kouri
Faced with growing dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration’s southwest border protection performance, including the suspension of the so-called “virtual” fence, this week the U.S. Customs and Border Protection directorate received a second Unmanned Aircraft System Predator-B at the Naval Air Security Operations Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, this is the first of two UAS’s funded through the FY 2010 Southwest Border Security Bill Supplemental.
The UAS, or drone, will provide critical aerial surveillance for U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed along the Texas-Mexico border.
The CBP UAS Program operates Predator-Bs from operation centers in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Corpus Christi, Texas. The missions from both centers allow CBP to deploy unmanned aircraft along the Southwest border from the eastern tip of California across the common Mexican land borders of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The UAS Operations Center in Corpus Christi supports counter-drug operations in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, disaster relief and humanitarian support in the Gulf Coast region, and rapid deployment throughout the southern tier of the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere.
Since its inception, the CBP Predator-B program has already flown more than 11,500 UAS hours supporting border security operations and disaster relief and emergency response, including various state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
These border security efforts have led to the 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.