LATHAN, N.Y., Sept. 15 (UPI) — The New York Army National Guard announced it will send a light utility helicopter with an accompanying crew to the Arizona-Mexico border to support law enforcement.
The craft is a UH-72 Lakota, one of two in the New York Army National Guard’s arsenal, and requires a four-member crew to operate. It will deploy to support a mandate by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies to help monitor the Southwest border. The crew is tasked with flying reconnaissance missions along the border to watch for illegal drug and human trafficking, in addition to illegal immigration.
The Lakota is armed with infrared capabilities and a high-powered searchlight, ideal for tracking people on the ground both during the day and at night. The craft can be employed in New York for disaster response missions.
New York National Guard troops have been used to patrol the Southern border several times before, dating back to President Woodrow Wilson‘s administration during the Mexican Revolutionary War. A “New York Division” was sent to Texas to prevent raids on American soil in 1916. More recently, over 1,000 New York National Guard soldiers were sent to the border from 2006-2008 as part of Operation Jump Start, and New York pilots have been flying reconnaissance missions in the region since 2012.
The Lakota crew will be accompanied by a Customs and Border Patrol agent on all missions. The agent has the ability to make arrests when necessary.