Intelligence: March 18, 2003


Long suspected, but never admitted until now, the FBI does have it's own air force. Some 80 aircraft are available to any of the 56 FBI field offices in the United States. Most of the planes are single engine civilian type aircraft. There are preferred because of their slow speed and ability to blend in. The aircraft are equipped with cameras that will work day and night as well as heat sensing equipment and electronic listening gear. The pilots are FBI agents who usually obtained their licenses on their own and don't fly full time for the government. The FBI has asked for a $20 million increase in their budget so they can buy two military UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. In the past, the FBI has made arrangements with the Department of Defense to obtain the temporary use of military reconnaissance aircraft. But there loans were always short, and the FBI often needed observation capability for stakeouts that could last months. The FBI is also looking into purchasing UAVs for surveillance work. The FBI likes UAVs for the same reason the military does; they are cheaper, and can stay in the air longer than manned aircraft. 


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