The United States Border Patrol (USBP) agency is planning to add small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) to their operations that will provide Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) capability along the U.S. southern and northern border. USBP announced their plans in a Request For Information (RFI) document released Thursday.
The Border Patrol is a sub-component of the United States Customs and Border Protection whose mission is to prevent the illegal flow of people and contraband into the U. S. via air, land, and sea. The USBP’s primary mission is to conduct law enforcement activities along the U. S. border and between the official U. S. ports of entry. As the nation’s single, unified border agency, USBP's mission is vitally important for the protection of the American people and the national economy. USBP represents the first line of defense of America's borders. One of USBP's strategic objectives is to establish and maintain effective control of air, land, and maritime borders with the appropriate mix of infrastructure, technology, and personnel. An integral component to this situational awareness is the planned use of sUAS to provide RSTA capability to the USBP along the southern and northern border.
The Border Patrol is seeking to obtain information from industry about the availability of fixed wing sUAS. “This RFI is issued solely for information, planning purposes, and market research only; it does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP,” the agency said in the RFI document.
The number of sUAS deployed within each USBP sector will vary based on geography, availability of equipment and trained operators, and operational need. When deployed, the system will provide the sUAS operator with video data that enables the detection, identification, classification, and tracking of Items of Interest (IoI) in rugged, remote, rural, urban, riverine, and coastal environments. The sUAS will also support vectoring of USBP agents to the immediate vicinity of the IoI for interdiction and event resolution, and if the sUAS has illumination capabilities (laser illuminator) will provide covert IoI illumination to assist agents in prepositioning themselves for intercepting the IoI.
The sUAS can be transported in several form factors, from a single backpack to several large hard cases that need to be transported by vehicle to a location closer to the final deployment location. The sUAS must be ruggedized so it can be transported in a 4x4 vehicle over terrain in the USBP operational environment, sometimes for long distances. The sUAS, packaged for transport, must not obstruct or disrupt the driver while in transport. Once the system is deployed, the agent will operate the system for the duration of their 10-hour shift. The operator interface (ground control system) shall allow the agent to control the sUAS easily for extended periods of time. The agent shall be able to adjust the screen brightness as necessary. The operator interface controls shall be intuitive and placed so that they are easy to reach. The agent will need to have the ability to rapidly move the system from one deployment location to another. The system shall allow the agent to easily and quickly prepare the sUAS for deployment to a different site.
Interested vendors are requested to submit their response to the USBP no later than Dec. 10.