Surveillance blimps along the U.S. – Mexico border are now under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman Bill Brooks told the Yuma Sun that DHS took over management of the blimp system — called the Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems — “earlier this summer and will manage and maintain it for the foreseeable future,” reports the Associated Press.
An aerostat is a buoyant aircraft, such as a airship or a balloon.
The balloon technology proved useful in Iraq and Afghanistan as an early warning threat detection system. The Associated Press reported in 2012 that CBP was testing the use of aerostats to aide in the detection of drug smugglers and illegal immigrants crossing the Rio Grande River.
In 2010, CBP, a division of DHS, also considered arming domestic Predator drones with non-lethal weapons, according to a report obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.