The Air and Marine Operations unit of the U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection is conducting testing to determine the possibility of operating an Unmanned Aircraft System Predator B out of Mathis Field.
Testing began Jan. 28 and should last three to four weeks. During that time a NOTAM (Notice to airman) has been issued around the testing sight. That means that no pilots may operate aircraft in the areas covered by the NOTAM with a few exceptions.
Air and Marine Operations air crews normally operate the UAS above 18,000 feet but have the capability of flying up to 50,000 feet. The unmanned aircraft, Predator B, can travel up to 267 mph and has a maximum flying time of 20 hours. AMO chose the Predator B because of its capabilities and performance record with other federal agencies.
According to a press release, AMO conducts its law enforcement and homeland security missions at the nation’s borders. During this proof-of concept testing, AMO will operate the UAS from San Angelo and conduct its border security mission along the Texas border.
AMO selected San Angelo because of its favorable weather conditions, central location and the existence of a current AMO operating location.