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CBP Air and Marine acquires helicopters for border security mission

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine added two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters to its aircraft fleet July 30, strengthening CBP’s ability to help secure and protect the nation’s borders. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art, multiengine helicopters will enhance CBP Air and Marine (A&M) capabilities to safely and reliably conduct crucial border security missions in selected areas of border operations. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine added two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters to its aircraft fleet July 30, strengthening CBP’s ability to help secure and protect the nation’s borders. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art, multiengine helicopters will enhance CBP Air and Marine (A&M) capabilities to safely and reliably conduct crucial border security missions in selected areas of border operations. (Courtesy photo)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine, located at Homestead Air Reserve Base, added two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters to its aircraft fleet recently, strengthening CBP's ability to help secure and protect the nation's borders. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art, multiengine helicopters will enhance CBP Air and Marine (A&M) capabilities to safely and reliably conduct crucial border security missions in selected areas of border operations.

During a ceremony at the Miami A&M Branch, Stephen Pitotti, Director, CBP A&M Air Test, Training, Safety and Standards, and John Beutlich, Director of Air Operations, Miami Air and Marine Branch, received the aircraft on behalf of CBP. Prior to their arrival in Miami, the aircraft were integrated by L-3 Communications at their facility in Waco, Texas.

"CBP Air and Marine's acquisition of these two aircraft is part of an ongoing effort to modernize and integrate the CBP A&M fleet with the assets necessary to meet emergent border threats," said Michael C. Kostelnik, Assistant Commissioner, CBP Air and Marine. "The AW139 medium-lift helicopters will strengthen A&M's ability to transport law enforcement personnel and provide surveillance in support of homeland security operations in challenging environments."

The AW139, manufactured by AgustaWestland, is a multi-mission helicopter capable of transporting up to 12 passengers at speeds of over 160 knots with a range of over 570 nautical miles. The CBP A&M AW139s are equipped with Multipayload Electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) Sensor, Laser Designator combined with EO/IR, multimode weather radar and communication systems. The aircraft will enter into operational service once successful Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) has been completed in early August.

"We are honored to provide the largest law enforcement air and marine force with the AW139 multimission helicopter," said Stephen C. Moss, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland North America. "We look forward to working with CBP to ensure these helicopters meet the operational and mission demands."

To ensure that CBP air assets are most conducive to mission success against current and emerging threats in diverse border environments, CBP Air and Marine initiated a deliberate acquisition strategy last year that includes an integrated OT&E effort. New aircraft and systems will undergo an extensive OT&E by professionally trained CBP Air and Marine operational test pilots before they are put into service. The OT&E is designed to put an aircraft through every maneuver and operation that it might encounter during normal and special operations.

(CBP Air and Marine protects the American people and the nation's critical infrastructure through the coordinated use of integrated air and marine forces to detect, interdict and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. CBP Air and Marine today stands as the largest law enforcement air and marine force in the world and a critical component of homeland security.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.)