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People and Air Fleet


McAllen has a very diverse fleet of manned aviation assets at their command to execute their main day-to-day mission of interdiction. A fleet of ten Airbus AS350s do the majority of work from the air, with additional aid coming from three Bell UH-1Ns and two Cessna 206s.


Each aircraft is staffed with a two-person crew of air and marine agents that includes a pilot, and a non-pilot who operates the onboard tactical equipment. It takes a total of 30 pilots and 24 non-pilots to staff these aircraft 24/7/365. Night operations are common, so a variety of tools are employed, including night vision goggles and electro-optical infrared (EOIR) camera equipment.


The McAllen branch averages over 100 requests per day for its services. These requests come from both within the CBP, as well as from other local and regional law enforcement agencies. The most common missions performed by the AS350s are interdiction and support of ground and marine units. Attempting to apprehend illegals crossing the border becomes a very tedious “in the weeds” process. People and drugs are always trying to stay hidden from view and much of the river banks are covered with very tall foliage. Helicopters are often the only way to direct ground teams into the denseness to apprehend people or contraband.


The UH-1Ns, which are twin-engine Hueys, can be used for interdiction and support as well, but their main purpose is to go further offshore across larger bodies of water. The aircraft has also become very useful for search and rescue missions, as they are regularly called to locate people who are lost and dying in the desert.


On the maintenance front, aircraft at the McAllen branch are maintained by a team of approximately 40 personnel provided by PAE, a third-party contractor. PAE ensures the readiness of the U.S. government to implement homeland security, defense, and civil government missions. They also support U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and civilian customers as well.


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