U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Program Management Office Directorate (PMOD) has installed a 22-Meter Persistent Ground Surveillance System Aerostat in Nogales, Arizona. The installation began on Monday, June 20, and is located approximately one mile north of the International Boundary with Mexico.
The aerostat will be operational and manned by Border Patrol Agents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide continuous aerial surveillance of the border. The aerostat is filled with helium and tethered to a Mooring Platform, which weighs around 15,000 pounds. The system includes day and night cameras to provide persistent, low-altitude surveillance, with a maximum range of 3,000 feet above ground level. Flying at this altitude allows Border Patrol Agents to maintain visual awareness of border activity in the United States for longer periods of time.
The United States Border Patrol (USBP) has successfully utilized technology assets such as this in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas since 2013. An agreement with the Department of Defense is allowing the USBP to expand the number of aerostats across the southwest border. There are currently 17 systems that are scheduled to deploy throughout multiple sectors this fiscal year. This will be the first aerostat within the Tucson Sector’s area of responsibility. An additional Tucson Sector aerostat site has been identified near Sasabe, Arizona, which is tentatively scheduled to be deployed later in the fiscal year.