U.S. Customs and Border Protection has completed the operational utility evaluation of three aerostats that were deployed in the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector in November 2013, and is planning to deploy two additional aerostats this June.
The aerostats have been very effective for the Border Patrol, both as a deterrence and as a means of spotting illegal activity. Additionally, the aerostats have helped agents save immigrant lives in remote and inhospitable areas.
The aerostats were acquired from the Department of Defense as they are no longer needed by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, but have significant benefits to the protection of the United States when deployed in a homeland security situation. The significant advantages of using excess military equipment include economic benefits and, in partnership with DOD, quality training in its use and maintenance.
The Rio Grande Valley Sector is part of the South Texas Campaign, which leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations. To report suspicious activity, call 800-863-9382.