FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sep 03, 2008
CBP Unmanned Aircraft to Survey Damage
Washington – U.S. Customs and Border Protection has deployed the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Predator B to support the response and recovery efforts of Hurricane Gustav. CBP launched its Predator B this morning at 8 a.m. to provide live streaming video to damage assessment personnel.
Launched from Corpus Christi, Texas, the Predator B was piloted by trained Air and Marine agents from Sierra Vista, Ariz. The UAS surveyed levee conditions to detect damage and identify post-event trouble spots and supported search and rescue personnel by providing live streaming video to federal, state and local officials.
"Timely and accurate information is critical to the men and women engaged in search and rescue operations on the ground," said Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner for CBP Air and Marine. "The UAS is providing real-time situational awareness to officials at all levels so they have the best information to identify needs and best determine how to prioritize the government's resources."
CBP's High Endurance Tracker (Cheyenne PA-42's) and Orion P-3s reconnaissance aircraft provided pre-landfall imagery of DHS-designated critical infrastructure, and rapid needs assessment following the landfall of Hurricane Gustav. Both fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft will be used as needed to monitor ground situation day/night and to transport first responders and security elements to affected areas.
Additionally, CBP officers and Border Patrol agents were deployed to assist in local, state and federal efforts to rescue those in harm's way. CBP also has deployed a team of 15 law enforcement officers to Alexandria, La., to support urban search and rescue efforts there. The primary mission of these teams is to ensure public safety and provide force protection for urban search and rescue teams.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection received its first Predator B in October 2006. The Predator B offers superior detection and monitoring capability, endurance, speed and payload capacity. The UAS is equipped with state-of-the-art sensor capability, including a Forward Looking Infrared Radar and Synthetic Aperture Radar. As a strategic asset within the Department of Homeland Security, the UAS has the capability to support other law enforcement efforts and critical incident response.
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Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.