U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced during a live interview on this radio station Wednesday morning that the aerostat program was being transferred to the Department of Homeland Security from the Department of Defense and would stay operational.
Udall reiterated the news at a Border Security Task Force meeting later that morning.
Speculation had been swirling around the internet and social media after the first of the year that the government would be shutting down the TARS – or Tethered Aerostat Radar System – program by the end of the fiscal year.
Reportedly, employees were notified in February that the aerostat system would cease as of March 15th.
Budget cuts were blamed for the shutdown.
But after the March 15th deadline passed and the tethered balloon continued to float above southern Luna County, residents were unsure of its future.
Udall said supporters defended TARS as an effective tool in the border security arsenal.
There are aerostat sites southwest of Deming as well as in Yuma and Fort Huachuca, Arizona… Marfa, Eagle Pass and Rio Grande City, Texas… Cudjoe Key, Florida… and Lajas, Puerto Rico.
The logistics hub for the project has been located in El Paso, Texas.