A second unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be delivered Wednesday to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi to help patrol and secure the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Congressman Henry Cuellar.
The UAV was secured as part of the 2010 Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The second Predator UAV is equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor system that vastly improves the operational effectiveness in CBP missions and is a UAV with synthetic aperture radar suitable for flights in darkness and inclement weather.
"I thank my colleagues Congressmen Michael McCaul and Blake Farenthold for their work in bringing a second UAV to patrol the Texas-Mexico border and Gulf of Mexico as we work to interdict drugs, human smuggling and gun trafficking," Cuellar said. "After more than two years of diligent work in the House Homeland Security Committee, numerous meetings and assessments of the southern border with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, we will have our second UAV patrolling our Texas skies. This will bring a better coordinated effort to provide real-time information and intelligence to our federal law enforcement agencies."
During a House Homeland Security hearing in July, Maj. Gen. Michael Kostelnik, who oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection's UAV Program, confirmed to Congressmen Cuellar and Michael McCaul that a second UAV would be based in Texas at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
"That will give us six aircraft on the Southwest border and because of the ops concept and the way we fly them on any given day there could be three or more aircraft in Texas. And they're routinely now flying nightly not only in the Rio Grande Valley but up through Laredo and up to El Paso," Maj. Gen. Kostelnik said during the July hearing.
The UAV that will be delivered to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi Wednesday is one of two UAV systems that were on order as part of the H.R. 6080, the 2010 Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
"The technology piece is the missing piece right now, and that's what's needed to fill the gap," said Congressman McCaul, who chairs the Homeland Security Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee. "Everyone talks about we need to secure the border. Well how do you do that? You fill in the missing piece and that's the technology piece."
Presently, of the four UAVs located on the southern border, three are stationed in Arizona while one, which is classified as a maritime unit, is based in Texas. The first UAV in Texas has been assigned to the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station to perform surveillance of both the border region and Gulf of Mexico. Texas and Mexico share 1,254 miles of border with Mexico compared with Arizona's 370-mile boundary.
"I am thrilled that additional resources have been made available to secure our southern borders. UAVs are a powerful force multiplier that will help protect America. We must continue to stop the illegal flow of guns, money and people across our borders," Congressman Blake Farenthold said.
When looking for a location to place the UAVs, Customs and Border Protection chose Naval Air Station Corpus Christi as a location for its fourth UAS Operations Center because it allows for the greatest support of the Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Strategic Plan, whose primary goal is to secure the Gulf of Mexico and shared border between Texas and Mexico.
The UAV currently stationed at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, a Guardian Maritime Variant delivered February 2010, carries unique technology used for maritime haze filtration. In addition, it carries the same surveillance technology as used over land in a Predator-B.