Bullet-proof helicopters play key U.S. border role
TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) – Pilot Rich Rouviere gazes through night vision goggles as he speeds the Black Hawk helicopter to where a high-tech drone far above has pinpointed 11 intruders from Mexico.As he sets the aircraft down in a swirling tornado of dust and debris, two agents in military style fatigues and flak jackets jump out and swiftly round up all but two of them, illuminated by a laser from the drone. From alert to arrest, the operation has taken 17 minutes.Welcome to a little known double act between spy planes and fast, military helicopters that is blazing a trail for the future of U.S. border security in a remote desert wilderness south of Tucson, Arizona.The Predator B Unmanned Aerial System, or drone, has been at work in Arizona since 2005, scouring the borderlands for drug traffickers and illegal immigrants from Mexico using high-powered cameras tucked on to its belly.
Silent and cloaked in darkness as it wheels miles above the desert, the spotting system cues elite tactical teams in Black Hawk helicopters to race in and carry out arrests, often many miles from the nearest highway.
“The UAS says ‘hey, this is what we see, we need you to come and grab it,'” said Rouviere, who alternates between flying Black Hawks and overseeing the Predator’s flights from a military base in southern Arizona.
Computer games (or more precisely war-sims) like Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter become more realistic as high-tech weaponry turns into “common-news”.