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Congressman Ron Barber

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona


Mar 5, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today announced that an airborne radar system scheduled to be taken out of service next week will be retained following a call from Barber and some of his colleagues to protect the program.

Two of the Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems, or TARS, are stationed in Arizona – one at Fort Huachuca and the other at Yuma.

“These systems help to secure our border by detecting ultralights and other low-flying aircraft illegally entering our country carrying drugs,” Barber said today. “Maintaining this program is one important step toward continuing our work to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. I am glad that the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security have agreed with me that this system of radar blimps stationed along our nation’s southern border is an essential component of our national security.”

In January, Barber and 15 of his colleagues wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Office of Management and Budget urging them to keep the aerostats operating. They were scheduled to be grounded March 15.

In response to the letter, the U.S. Air Force announced that it will maintain the aerostat system until Sept. 30, 2013, when it will be transferred to DHS.

For more than two decades, TARS have been stationed at eight locations. They have “provided critical intelligence data to federal law enforcement agencies working to interdict drugs and other contraband along the Southwest border with Mexico, in the Florida Straits and in the Caribbean,” according to the Jan. 31 letter from Barber and his colleagues.

The systems are operated by a civilian contractor working for the Department of Defense. About 25 to 30 people are employed at each of the eight aerostat sites.

According to one study last year, the aerostat at Fort Huachuca helped Border Patrol agents make almost 100 arrests in Arizona.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mark Kimble
Communications Director
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber
Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District
(520) 881-3588 or (520) 904-5876