ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection received a new unmanned aircraft system Tuesday, bringing to six the total number of such systems that can be deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border, the El Paso Times reported.
The new Predator-B is the fourth unmanned aircraft system, or UAS, to be based at the National Air Security Operations Center in Sierra Vista, Ariz., where UAS flights provide aerial surveillance for U.S. border security officers on the ground, the Times said.
The CBP now has nine unmanned aircraft systems operating in the United States — six in the Southwest, two in North Dakota and one in Florida, the paper reported.
“Contrary to its popular nickname, the CBP Predator-B is not a ‘drone,'” CBP officials said. “It is a remotely piloted aircraft, operated in real time … Combined with other advanced technology both on the ground and in the air, the pilots, the aircraft and its support equipment comprise a far more sophisticated and flexible system than the ‘drone’ nickname implies.”
Since the UAS program began in 2005, the aircraft have helped with the seizures of about 46,600 pounds of illegal drugs and the detentions of about 7,500 people suspected of taking part in crimes along the border, CBP officials said.