Anytime there's a major event that is a potential terrorist target, chances are there's at least one P-3 Orion aircraft (search) monitoring the airspace above.
FOX News reporter Jonathan Serrie recently had the opportunity to fly aboard one of the sophisticated planes.
The plane — one of 16 flying with the U.S. Immigration and Custom's Enforcement Office of Air and Marine Operations (search) — is equipped with state of the art radar, infrared cameras and telescopic lenses that allow specialists on board to get a close look at boats and other aircraft, even from miles away.
Last year information obtained by the P-3 crews led to the seizure of 44,000 pounds of illegal drugs, mostly cocaine. Needless to say, they're not too popular with the drug smugglers so the flight crews have asked us to use only their first names in this report.
Although spotting drug smugglers and illegal immigrants remains a major focus of their mission, in the wake of Sept. 11, the P-3s are routinely called upon to provide roles in counter-terrorism.
"We're tasked with a lot of stuff in the U.S.: presidential security details, Department of Energy flights ... any kind of major sporting event, Super Bowl, Olympics," said a pilot named Jim.
"We would typically be at something like that sorting air targets overhead."
Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by Fox News' Jonathan Serrie.