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Sun, Jun 27, 2004

Homeland Security UAV's Operating in Arizona

Hermes 450 UAV's flying in support of border security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced 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 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 Border Patrol and are scheduled to operate 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 directorate.  Hundreds of law enforcement officers from local, state, tribal and federal agencies in Arizona, including personnel from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Transportation Security Administration 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.

Hermes 450 FAQ

The success of the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABC) is contingent on impairing and stopping the smuggling organizations that transport human cargo across the border.  To assist state, local and federal elements in their efforts, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has begun using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are both an important part of the smarter border strategy and an essential element of the Arizona Border Control Initiative. The UAVs permit greater border coverage and quicker response times in rugged, desolate areas of the southwest border.

This is the first non-military use of UAVs for border protection. The Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) will supplement ground security efforts with a live video feed of potential illegal smuggling as it occurs.

The use of UAVs will complement the other intrusion detection and intelligence gathering components of the border surveillance network to meet the mission of stopping the illegal entry of terrorists, smugglers and others into the United States.

UAVs equipped with sophisticated on-board sensors have the potential to provide unparalleled surveillance capability.  This capability will provide CBP Border Patrol agents a “birds eye view” of smuggling and allow them to quickly refocus resources to apprehend people illegally entering the country. UAVs will also contribute to enforcement effectiveness and officer safety by providing communications links for coordinating multiple units on the ground is important in remote border operating areas.

UAVs provide long-range surveillance. As a result, they are especially effective force-multipliers because they have the capacity to remain on station much longer than other airborne assets, and are particularly useful for monitoring remote land border areas where patrols cannot easily travel and infrastructure is difficult or impossible to build.

Aviation/Technology

  • The UAV is equipped with electro-optic sensors and communications payloads providing day and night imagery.
  • It is equipped with a communication capability used by ground control stations to communicate, which is a law enforcement officer safety and a communications/coordination requirement.
  • The Hermes 450 is a single engine system with advanced composite structure and optimized aerodynamics. Advanced avionics enable autonomous flights and precise GPS navigation.
  • The UAV is equipped with sophisticated communication systems transferring imagery in real-time to ground control stations.

Specifications

  • Up to 20 hours of flight endurance
  • Reaches ceiling of 18,000 feet (operating at approximately 9,500 feet)
  • Maximum air speed: 95 knots (125 miles per hour)
  • Cruise speed:  70 knots (91 miles per hour)
  • Built as a high wing, V-tail optimal aerodynamic configuration
  • Light composite structure
  • Redundant flight computer avionics and power supply
  • Fully autonomous flight with in-flight redirection
FMI: www.dhs.gov

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