Every day there are new reports on immigration issues along the U. S. border. With a steadily increasing number of illegal crossings occurring daily, the U.S. is looking into expanding its domestic Air Force.
In a Request For Information released on the Federal Government Business Opportunities website, the Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine is seeking “information on contractors capable of modifying a newly built, commercially produced, normal category, FAA-certified multi-engine turboprop/fan airplane to a law-enforcement equipped MEA by reconfiguring the airframe and installing a modular sensor system and removable sensor consoles, equipped with the capability to display and export all collected imagery. The submitted information should include the current availability of support systems required to maintain an aircraft life expectancy of at least 20 years in service.”
Additional specifications include that the planes have the ability to detect a person from up to seven miles away and classify a target from two miles away. It should also be able to detect a small airplane from 17 miles and a 30-foot boat from 29 miles.
According to Time Magazine, the agency had already started to replace its older crafts with recently acquired modified aircraft. Of the ten ordered, seven are currently flying out of San Diego and Jacksonville.
The newer planes are equipped with an abundance of military-grade equipment including global positioning systems, weather radar, and wide-area and marine surveillance. Each has a search radar, ground-moving target indicator, digital and video recorders as well as day/night cameras. The planes can fly at a speed of up to 310 miles per hour for up to five hours, with room for two pilots and two sensor operators.
Time Magazine reported that the agency stated that it is looking for 40 more aircraft as a way to fill “a growing requirement to support law enforcement and emergency response operations with sensor-equipped surveillance aircraft capable of collecting, recording and transmitting real-time imagery to tactical and strategic command and control coordination centers. This aircraft will be used primarily for maritime, air and land surveillance and interdiction missions and logistical transportation of cargo and people.”
The agency said its roster of 1,200 agents “protects the American people and the nation’s critical infrastructure through the coordinated use of integrated air and marine forces to detect, interdict and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States.” According to their statistics and information, in 2013 alone the agency’s airplanes played a role in the seizure of more than a million pounds of marijuana, 150,000 pounds of cocaine, $25 million in cash, 2,194 weapons, and in the apprehension of 63,562 undocumented aliens.