Skip to comments.South Texas congressmen: More drones needed to patrol Mexican border
Posted on 04/27/2011 5:05:35 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch
CORPUS CHRISTI One $30 million unmanned aerial vehicle is not enough to patrol 1,200 miles of border between Texas and Mexico, according to a group of South Texas lawmakers.
Three members of the Texas congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, on Wednesday met with state and federal officials at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi to push for additional unmanned flight operations in South Texas.
Flanked by U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Michael McCaul, R-Katy, Farenthold stood beside the nose of the menacing but unarmed Predator B drone and said Texas is a prime candidate to receive additional drones by the end of the year.
One Predator, based at the Naval Air Station, patrols Texas' border with Mexico and the Gulf Coast, while three operate out of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Cuellar said. A fifth operates out of Grand Banks Air Force Base, N.D.
The Texas-based Predator has been operating out of Corpus Christi since February, although preparations began last fall.
Farenthold said the lawmakers are working to convince U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor and attorney general of Arizona, the systems are needed here more than elsewhere.
"Texas tends to be overlooked, probably for political reasons," Farenthold said. "We're the logical spot. We have the most border, not to mention our coastline, and we need some more assets down here."
Cuellar, Farenthold and McCaul signed a letter to Napolitano dated April 25, requesting two additional systems and crews by the end of the year.
The systems, if received, would operate out of Corpus Christi, McCaul said.
When viewed up close, the aircraft's long, straight wings resemble those of a scaled-down version of the U2 spy planes of the past.
They are built for stamina, not speed and maneuverability, said pilot Scott Peterson, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.
The aircraft cruises at less than 100 mph but can top out at more than 300, he said. Their 1,000 horsepower engines can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and can travel from Corpus Christi to London about 5,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.
A hump sits where a cockpit would be on a manned aircraft. The landing gear give the appearance of spindly spider's legs, unsuitable for landing on the rough terrain they spend up to 20 hours at a time surveying.
The complex camera system is enclosed in a revolving turret beneath the nose and is designed to penetrate maritime haze, enabling it to be operated over water.
Plans to expand the radar package will increase the aircraft's ability to detect shipping far out into the Gulf of Mexico, Peterson said.
Wednesday's planned demonstration of the aircraft landing and taxiing to its spot in the hangar, scheduled before sunrise, was scrubbed because of high winds and low cloud cover.
Instead, a pilot's computer screen looped footage of a sport utility vehicle bounding along a desert road recently taken from one of the aircraft's powerful cameras.
The Federal Aviation Administration closely regulates where the drones can operate and how many can be licensed to fly from each base, a bureaucratic obstacle Farenthold said he hoped could be adjusted.
The machines also have brought criticism from Mexican officials, who say they are a threat to the country's sovereignty when allowed to operate over Mexican soil.
Texas Ranger Capt. Bob Bullock Jr. said the 144 men and women of the state's lead criminal investigation division have come to appreciate the Predator more as they understand their capabilities.
"It's an officer safety issue," he said. "If I've got Rangers on the ground and there is a large group moving toward them, I can notify them of what's ahead."
Bullock said the drones also help Rangers know ahead of time where contraband is being moved and whether intelligence coming from the other side of the Rio Grande is reliable.
"If the Zetas or cartels move into a border town and tell the people to get the heck out, we can verify the people's movement from the air and know that not only was the intel good, we can see which way they're headed."
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
Sorry Texas, Libyan rebels need them more. According to Obambi.
Sorry, our drones are all tied up protecting the muslim brotherhood and their buddies al qaeda.
That is when they’re not dropping bombs on the people they mean to protect.
Only if the have remote control bombs on them
Looking for the like button.
It would be great if they were armed.
Just taking movies of illegals crossing over is not much of a deterrent. Especially when your border patrol is armed with paint guns.
Texas needs these more than our AlQueda friends in Libya.
Amen to the "good luck"! The Federal government, represented by Napolitano in this instance, has ben castrated by the executive branch. Napolitano is simply following orders from the cretin in chief.
Thanks for the ping.
Napolitano appears to be bought and owned by the Drug Cartels and their Drug Supplying to the American Clientel who are alleged to be 90% Democrats and Big Demorat Contributors and the Drug Dealers who make huge Contributions to the Democratic Party know what Ralph Nader said in 2004 after his meeting with Lurch Kerry,
saying that “ Now I know the Democrat Party is Corrupted and Decayed to the Absolute Top of It’s Leadership!” The Cartels know they are protected by the Democratic Leadership.
Why else would the Democrats let Drug Cartels threaten America’s Land Owners and Citizens and protect the Most Dispicable and Murderous Terrorists in the WORLD against Our AMERICA!
More drones needed to patrol Mexican border
Maybe Obama can spare some of his Cabinet members and Czars.