The Free Texican Air Force

Already running gunboats on the Rio Grande, the Texas Department of Public Safety has now purchased a manned spy plane to police the border.
Fri October 19, 2012 7:16 pm
Pilatus Aircraft

Texas may not be a sovereign nation outside of our hearts (and RoT headquarters), but the state’s Department of Public Safety is is becoming quite the military force.

First came the news that DPS was getting its own “Navy,” in the form of gunboats to fight drug smugglers and immigration mules who cross the Rio Grande. And now, there’s going to be a fancy add-on to its “Air Force.”

As G.W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting wrote, Texas’s small government has spent big bucks—$7.4 million, to be specific— on a “high-altitude spy plane,” the PC-12 NG Spectre, from the Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.

That’s not just a lot of money, but a possible provocation to libertarians and privacy advocates, who have already taken issue with the federal government’s use of both manned and unmanned surveillance planes. Wrote Schulz:

Among its features is a $1 million array of surveillance cameras with high-resolution and thermal-imaging capabilities, and a $300,000 downlink system that enables the plane’s crew to send real-time surveillance images anywhere in the state, according to records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting through the Texas Public Information Act. The package will also come with four sets of night-vision goggles worth about $60,000, records show….

Texas state police spokesman Tom Vinger said most of the plane’s missions will be carried out on the border between the United States and Mexico, and “serve as a tool in assisting specific joint operations that are clearly defined by area and duration.”…

Texas politicians have long asserted that Washington wasn’t doing enough to secure the nation’s boundary with Mexico. The Lone Star State has reportedly devoted $600 million in taxpayer money to beef up the border since 2007, according to news accounts.

No one has benefited more than the

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...