FAA approves UAV for Texas-Mexico Border, Gulf Coast
CBP to Permanently Station Remotely-Piloted Aircraft in Texas
Jun 23, 2010 -
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle over 1,200 miles of the Texas-Mexico border, in addition to the Texas Gulf Coast. As a result of the decision, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can now move forward in permanently stationing a remotely-piloted aircraft in Texas. This will be the first UAV based and operated in Texas to help combat illegal activity along the Texas-Mexico border.
"Today marks a critical next step in securing the Texas-Mexico border. By permanently positioning this aircraft in Texas, CBP can further combat illegal activity along our southern border," said Congressman Cuellar. "For five years, other southern border states have benefited from this technology and this will ensure Texas has the same tools in the box to combat the spectrum of threats we face."
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 between El 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 critical intelligence information from attached cameras, sensors and radar systems.
"Increasingly these aircraft will become a familiar means for providing homeland security," said Congressman Cuellar. "By putting eyes in the sky, we can provide real-time information to our law enforcement on the ground. This combination of technology and manpower keeps our law enforcement a cut above the challenges they face."
CBP has indicated to Congressman Cuellar plans to place the Texas-based UAV at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. For six months, Congressman Cuellar, in addition to other bipartisan lawmakers from across the state, has been working in coordination with CBP and FAA to bring the UAV program to Texas. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, Congressman Cuellar is committed to ensuring the most effective, cutting-edge, cost-effective technology as a means to help secure the nation’s borders.
According to CBP, 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 illegal aliens, in addition to the seizure of more than 15,000 pounds of marijuana.
"These aircraft are a force multiplier for our border law enforcement," said Congressman Cuellar. "They have the endurance and flexibility required to patrol our border and they collect critical information to protect our country."
For more information on the CBP UAV program, please visit:
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.