For Immediate ReleaseOffice of the Press SecretaryContact: 202-282-8010June 25, 2004
(Fort Huachuca, AZ) --The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) todayannounces the first sustained civilian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) tocurb illegal activities along Arizonas southern border. Two Hermes 450UAVs will be used as part of the Arizona Border Control (ABC) Initiative toassist with border surveillance activities and augments manned aircraft,helicopters and ground sensors already in place. The UAV flights will becontrolled and monitored by U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) BorderPatrol and are scheduled through the summer of 2004.
The UAVs are equipped with electro-optic sensors and communications payloadswhich provide around-the-clock images to CBP Border Patrol agents. These aerialvehicles permit greater border coverage and quicker response times in therugged, desolate areas of the Southwest border. The UAV launch is a significant,cooperative effort among DHSs Border and Transportation Security (BTS)directorate. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from local, state,tribal and federal agencies in Arizona, including personnel from Immigration andCustoms Enforcement (ICE), CBP, U.S. Border Patrol, and the TransportationSecurity Administration (TSA), are working in close cooperation with theDepartment of Interior and Department of Defense to ensure this technologyssuccess 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 technologiesand systems to better secure America. This is another example of theDepartment's support to gain operational control of the Arizona border, saidUnder Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson.
The ABC Initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort to achieve an even safer andmore secure Southwest border. It supports the priority mission of HomelandSecurity agencies to detect and deter terrorist activities and cross-borderillegal trafficking of people and drugs.