U.S. Border Patrol Agents in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley Testing Advanced ‘Eye in the Sky’ Technology

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working with TCOM, worldwide company specializing airborne surveillance systems, to provide the U.S. Border Patrol in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley in Texas with a number of TCOM aerostat systems, which allow agents to view activity occurring along the border.

Border Patrol agents use both tactical class and operational class aerostats to detect and track activity along some of the most highly trafficked areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.

What are Aerostat Systems?

Both tactical and operational aerostat systems are comprised of helium-filled balloons onto which a radar, video and communications systems are attached. These balloons are capable of achieving heights of 1,000 to 5,000 feet.  All of the retrieved data is then transmitted to a ground control station through a fiber optic tether that can transmit high bandwidth data. Border Patrol agents can gain situation awareness as to evaluate data and intercept illegal activity in a timely manner by examining the retrieved data.

Benefits of Aerostat Systems

TCOM President, Ron Bendlin, said that these types of aerostat systems are ideal for the challenging geography in southwest Texas. Border Patrol agents can gain an elevated perspective for facilitated surveillance through these aerostat systems, which include advanced sensor equipment, which is similar to what Border Patrol agents use in other parts of the country. They are capable of gaining an altitude of up to 5,000 feet, thereby allowing Border Patrol agents to monitor thousands of square miles of land.

TCOM has provided aerostat systems to the U.S military and allied military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq for the past ten years. They are now setting their sights on national security here at home by providing technology to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as several other national agencies.