BP towers to fill surveillance gap after aerostat drawdown
In the absence of aerostat surveillance balloons, Border Patrol will be relying on surveillance towers to give agents a view of the border through remote cameras.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Channel 5 News on Tuesday about how the government has been working to lay out a network of surveillance towers —that includes what's called the 'automated surveillance towers' and 'RVSS' towers.
Those additions included 75 RVSS towers, considered an older legacy system, and 256 RVSS-U towers, with the 'u' standing for 'upgrade.'
The newest addition are the autonomous surveillance towers (AST). According to CBP data, they are 33 feet tall, have a three-mile radius view, have a day and night camera, and are solar-powered.
CBP says it uses artificial intelligence to spot targets and call them out to agents.
RVSS systems are in use in the Mid-Valley as well as other areas. Border Patrol says automated surveillance towers are in use in some remote parts of Starr County, after pilot testing concluded in California and Laredo in 2022.
CBP said another 80 AST towers are planned for deployment.
A CBP spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question on the rationale for the announced aerostat drawdown. The change started New Year’s Day.
The agency “began reducing the number of Tactical Aerostats deployed along the southwest border,” according to CBP spokesperson Rod Kise.
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