Aviation supports Counterdrug mission
Since 1991, the Army National Guard and Air National Guard have dedicated aviation assets to the National Guard Counterdrug Program. Aircrews, using both fixed-wing and rotary-wing assets, have supported law enforcement Counterdrug operations with aerial observation, photo imagery, full motion video and interagency communications.
The RC-26B provides aerial photography, observation in support of Counterdrug activities. The highly trained RC-26B aircrews have backgrounds in almost every military aviation platform and effectively bridge the gap between Department of Defense and civil authorities. This service is provided at no cost to Law Enforcement Agencies.
The RC-26B provides the platform and sensors to afford unobserved airborne command and control, radio relay, observation, photography, suspect tracking and vehicle follow, up to 100 zoom spotter scope, daylight mission video and Forward Looking Infrared thermal video can be provided at the completion of the flight. Some of the aircraft are equipped with full-motion video line of sight transmitters. An extensive communications suite allows communications from 29-960 MHz, including provisions for plugging in 800 Mhz handheld radios and air phone capabilities.
RC-26B employment includes: following suspects to find drug suppliers, video recording transaction and documenting location of controlled buys, providing photos and video for planning ingress and egress for takedowns, providing a bird's eye view of locations, reports of arrival/departure of suspects, protecting officers on ground during takedowns, providing a platform for surveillance in areas where no other method is possible without compromise, and tracking fleeing subjects, day or night.
As part of the Security and Support Battalion mission, the National Guard Counterdrug Program operates specially equipped UH-72A Lakota helicopters to support federal, state and local law enforcement agencies' demand for aviation support in Counterdrug operations.
Full-time pilots and crew chiefs support missions such as: observation, vehicle/fugitive tracking, cover/force protection during Reconnaissance Aerial Interdiction Detachment/Sweeps, disturbed Earth scenario, indoor grows, cannabis eradication and law enforcement officer training.
Helicopter capabilities include Forward Looking Infrared, 30 million candlepower Nitesun, GPS, law enforcement compatible Global Wulfsberg Radios, video downlink and moving map systems.
The Army National Guard Counterdrug Security and Support Battalion Mission focuses on LEA support to CD operations. However, Homeland Security and Homeland Defense missions are taking on a larger role.