WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently assumed responsibility for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) from the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The aerostat-borne surveillance system-operating in the U.S. since 1978-provides radar detection and monitoring of low-altitude aircraft and surface vessels along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean.
USAF and DHS personnel began the formal transfer of the TARS program, contracts, and operations responsibilities in March 2013. On July 1, 2013, CBP assumed official program and contract management responsibilities and have assumed all funding requirements in FY 2014.
The program consists of eight TARS aerostat sites with six along the Southwest Border (Yuma and Ft Huachuca, Ariz.; Deming, N.M.; Marfa, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City, Texas) and additional sites in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico.