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U.S. Department of Homeland Security  
  

25 June 2004

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Enhancing Border Security, DHS Says

Aircraft now conducting surveillance along Arizona's southern border

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the first sustained civilian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to curb illegal activities along Arizona's southern border.

In a press release issued June 25, the DHS explained that two Hermes 450 UAVs will be used as part of the Arizona Border Control Initiative "to assist with border surveillance activities," augmenting "manned aircraft, helicopters and ground sensors already in place.

The Arizona Border Control Initiative "supports the priority mission of Homeland Security agencies to detect and deter terrorist activities and cross-border illegal trafficking of people and drugs," the DHS added.

Following is the text of the DHS press release, with further details:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Press Release
June 25, 2004

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES OPERATING IN ARIZONA TO SUPPORT BORDER SECURITY

(Fort Huachuca, AZ) June 25, 2004 -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announces the first sustained civilian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to curb illegal activities along Arizona's southern border. Two Hermes 450 UAVs will be used as part of the Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative to assist with border surveillance activities and augments manned aircraft, helicopters and ground sensors already in place. The UAV flights will be controlled and monitored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Border Patrol and are scheduled through the summer of 2004.

The UAVs are equipped with electro-optic sensors and communications payloads which provide around-the-clock images to CBP Border Patrol agents. These aerial vehicles permit greater border coverage and quicker response times in the rugged, desolate areas of the Southwest border. The UAV launch is a significant, cooperative effort among DHS's Border and Transportation Security (BTS) directorate. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from local, state, tribal and federal agencies in Arizona, including personnel from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), CBP, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are working in close cooperation with the Department of Interior and Department of Defense to ensure this technology's success under the ABC Initiative.

"The development of UAVs in protecting the borders of the U.S. demonstrates the commitment this Administration has to testing new technologies and systems to better secure America. This is another example of the Department's support to gain operational control of the Arizona border," said Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson.

The ABC Initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort to achieve an even safer and more secure Southwest border. It supports the priority mission of Homeland Security agencies to detect and deter terrorist activities and cross-border illegal trafficking of people and drugs.

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