Flights collecting critical data for damage assessment

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) crews launched a radar-equipped unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to Florida to collect radar imagery of critical infrastructures before Hurricane Irma made landfall, and after.

UAS crews launched from the National Air Security Operations Center- Corpus Christi (NASOC-CC), which is at Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, and began collecting radar imagery of critical infrastructure to compare to imagery collected pre-landfall, allowing officials to gain insight to the damage at critical infrastructures.

Air and Marine Operations crews pilot an UAS from Corpus Christi, Texas capturing imagery in Florida post Hurricane Irma.
Air and Marine Operations crews pilot an UAS from Corpus Christi, Texas capturing imagery in Florida post Hurricane Irma.

AMO crews flying these missions are familiar with flying damage assessment flights.

“Our UAS crews also fly our P-3s and are extremely experienced in flying damage assessment flights,” said William Durham, Director, Air Operations, at NASCOC-CC. “Collecting these types of imagery allow officials to see the damage that the severe weather caused without putting people in the danger zone. These flights also let agency officials see the impact to CBP facilities and surrounding areas which will allow them to estimate when trade can be re-established in the impacted areas.”

The crews performing these missions recently returned to duty following Hurricane Harvey.

“We were able to secure our UAS and P-3 aircraft and our work spaces were spared the flooding and other damage that accompanies gale force winds,” Durham said. “Supporting CBP efforts during Hurricane Irma, allows our crews to support others who are similarly affected.

AMO’s advanced capabilities and skill sets in the air and maritime environments fall within our core competencies: interdiction, investigation, domain awareness, and contingency operations and national tasking missions. AMO performs a wide range of incident-based missions in response to state and federal emergencies, such as disaster relief, continuity of operations, humanitarian operations, search and rescue, tactical team insertions and logistics, and National Special Security Events.