RAPID CITY, S.D. - Members of the South Dakota National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility, of Rapid City, recently deployed for a mission to the U.S. Southwest border. The Guardsmen will provide aerial reconnaissance with LUH-72 Lakota helicopters in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to support the national effort to counter illegal immigration.
The Lakota provides an aerial platform equipped with visual and infrared cameras and a high-powered searchlight capable of providing an 'eye in the sky,' day or night. This allows the aircraft to assist in the direction of U.S. Border Patrol personnel on the ground toward areas of suspicious activity, which may include drug smuggling, human trafficking and illegal immigration.
This is the second time the SDNG has deployed aircraft in support of the Southwest border mission, but it's the first time its own LUH-72 aircraft will be used for this operation - the SDNG deployed an OH-58 Kiowa to the border for aerial surveillance in 2006-2007. The SDNG was first fielded Lakota helicopters in May 2011. Until now, the aircraft has mainly been used in support of state missions and crew training.