New information on the mysterious Tucson high-powered drone

Last month, we told you about a seriously augmented drone that did an amazing job while escaping – and eventually escaping – in pursuit of police helicopters over Tucson, Arizona. There is now new information about the mysterious flight, although both the plane and the pilot remain a mystery.

Night-flying CBP chopper with super drone buzz

The link above gives you the full background on the notable incident, but the Cliff Notes version is as follows. A Customs and Border Police (CBP) helicopter was surfed on a night flight over Tucson on February 9th and then tracked by a so-called “high-powered drone”. When the CBP turned the tables and started chasing the vehicle, they put the helicopter on a one-hour chase over a 70-mile zone. During this amazingly long flight, the mysterious object exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour and rose to a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet. Then a Jimmy Hoffa did it – disappeared, never to reappear (so far).

The FBI has stepped in to hunt down the pilot and drone, describing the latter as a “highly modified” vehicle that would not have been bought in the mall. When May ended, that was all we knew.

Brett Tingley, a writer on The War Zone section of, has been involved in the story from the start and is now providing new information gathered from various sources. The man is obviously driven and admirably trained in his tact, and his full update is more than worth reading.

Laundry list of FAA violations, prohibited websites visited

Highlights include the reason that the super drone violated the prohibited airspace around Tucson Airport and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In fact, it was first sighted around – possibly above – the base before not disappearing far from it. Some of Tingley’s sources argue that it “is only logical that after [Davis-Monthan AFB] Fluglinie ”during his involvement with and escape from the CBP chopper. The source also said that the performance and length of the flight made it unlikely that the drone was battery powered. The source also speculated that the drone had an infrared camera to maneuver like it was in the dark.

Stranger – and more disturbing – are still certain assets that the drone visited. Tingley reports that the vehicle was first seen near “a complex of fuel tanks west of runway 12” on the base. It was also apparently located near – or on – a local terminal operated by one of America’s largest energy and fuel pipeline companies. Tingley continues:

As such, this incident would add to the growing number of recent drone attacks which have occurred worryingly in military-controlled airspace or near sensitive facilities. In fact, there is a precedent for unknown drones flying at night that care about critical energy infrastructure in Arizona. In September 2019, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant near Phoenix was the scene of an incident called “Drone-a-Palooza” by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has not yet been resolved.

Cartel, arms industry, UFO pilots?

As another theory, observers note that in the past, drones were used by Mexican drug cartels as mules to smuggle drugs into the United States. They also equipped weapons for attacks against rival gangs and the police. However, some reports suggest that their use in strikes is immature and limited in effectiveness. It’s also unlikely that cartels interested in smuggling drugs into the U.S. via drones would boldly twitch the nose of a CBP chopper – or fly their valuable cargo the entire 80 miles from the border to Tucson first.

US aerospace and defense companies in the area are conducting test flights of sleek new aircraft, but rarely over populated areas and not after dark.

At the moment the truth about it is (still) out, but doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to make itself fully known.

FTC: We Use Income Earning Auto Affiliate Links. More.

Subscribe to DroneDJ on YouTube for exclusive videos

Comments are closed.