Saturday, June 18, 2011

CBP Announces Use of King Air 350

On June 10, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced its new King Air 350, a twin engine Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) that will be used to patrol the nation's land and maritime borders. The first 30 of the new patrol aircrafts will replace an aging fleet of aircrafts and support a variety of land and water-based operations.
The first MEA will deploy to the Southwest border in mid-June 2011 to undergo initial tests and conduct missions that will enhance ground tactics and enforcement coordination.
The new aircrafts have a sophisticated set of active and passive sensors, technical collection equipment and satellite communication capabilities. It is operated by a crew of four individuals, including two trained sensor operators who utilize the mission equipment and coordinate information sharing to the ground. It flies at 270 knots with a maximum ceiling of 35,000 feet and can be reconfigured to carry special mission teams or cargo.

The aircrafts design has been modified to improve its capabilities. The nose was extended to provide a wider view for its high-resolution day and night camera. The MEAs can also send targeting information through Ku-Band satellite communications and employs the latest data processing software.
Additionally, the MEA can fly six-hour missions over land and water and can be deployed to "hot spots," where multi-sensor patrols assist in apprehending traffickers and smugglers. It will be used in the Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Pacific, Great Lakes region and other coastal approaches to the country as well.
The aircrafts are being built by Hawker Beechcraft Corp. and modified for CBP missions by the Sierra Nevada factory in Hagerstown, Md.

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