NOGALES, Ariz. — Hundreds of obsolete Javelin missile weapon sights collecting dust in a warehouse have been given new life with the U.S. Border Patrol.
The Javelin is an anti-tank missile that is used by the Army and Marine Corps and produced in a joint venture by Raytheon Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Agent Jim Hawkins, a spokesman for the Tucson sector, said the Border Patrol received a call last year from Raytheon executives who are based at the company’s missile systems division in Tucson, Ariz.
They asked if the agency would be interested in putting the missile’s night vision sights to use protecting the southern border.
The Army had several hundred units from an early version of the missile that were deemed obsolete. They couldn’t be exported and were considered white elephants.
After hearing what the company had to offer, the answer was an unequivocal “yes,” Hawkins said.
“It was a tremendous deal for us. We’re basically getting a top notch night sight for a mere pittance,” Hawkins said.
The Border Patrol only has to supply the batteries.
Military features such as triggering devices were taken off the units. The agency received about 200 units — of which about half are being saved for spare parts, he said.
The sights were “designed for battle. We know it’s durable,” Hawkins added.
The agency also had to find a practical way to deploy them in the field. The sights, which weigh several pounds, could be lifted to the eyes with two hands, but not for long without tiring the operator’s arms. They were designed to quickly find and destroy armored vehicles, not for “persistent stare” capabilities.
National Guard members detailed to Operation Jump Start — the temporary deployment of National Guard to bolster the southern border — jury-rigged tripods so they could be used in the field.
Guardsmen and Border Patrol agents are currently using the sights to search for illegal aliens or drug smugglers attempting to cross the border.
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