DEARBORN, MI – When U.S. Border Patrol agents go to work every day, they’re often behind the wheel of a Ford F-Series Super Duty truck. With the government-mandated escalation of Border Patrol agents over the next two years, Ford looks to increase its fleet presence on the front lines of national security by offering its quietest F-Series Super Duty ever with a new 6.4L Power Stroke Diesel engine.

The demand for such a vehicle is expected to climb over the next two years as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) division of the Department of Homeland Security adds 6,000 border patrol agents to its current staff of 12,200 by the end of 2008 as part of “Operation Jump Start.” CBP agents patrol 7,000 miles of border shared with Canada and Mexico, as well as 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida peninsula and off the coast of Southern California.

The CBP already operates 9,300 border patrol vehicles and plans to add 4,000 trucks and SUVs with the increase in manpower. Roughly one-third of the vehicles currently operated by the U.S. Border Patrol — just one of numerous government agencies operating Ford fleet vehicles — are Fords, and orders for more are coming in just as the 2008 F-Series Super Duty hits the market.

Whether it’s a production Ford F-250 or a specially modified Ford F-350 the CBP’s preference, particularly in the South, is diesel — and the quieter the better for border surveillance purposes. The U.S. Border Patrol subjects its vehicles to some of the harshest off-road terrain and temperature extremes in the states. They rack up between 150,000 and 200,000 miles per vehicle with almost weekly oil changes.

Most of the Border Patrol’s vehicles are heavily modified before they go into service. In 2000, Ford supplied the Border Patrol with a half-dozen F-350 Super Duty pickups modified with aftermarket components for severe off-road capability.

In addition to a heavy-duty suspension system, the F-350s are modified with a climate-controlled detention box mounted on the truck bed. Rebound straps that protect the nine-position adjustable shocks from fully extending in airborne situations and a kit that allows for 29-inch river fording capability are among other safety modifications. The vehicles also are equipped with law enforcement surveillance and military-type radio equipment.