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Border securityCBP awards $145 million border towers contract to Elbit

Published 6 March 2014

DHS’s Customs and Border Protection(CBP) has awarded Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Israeli based Elbit Systems, a $145 million contract for the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) project along the Mexico-Arizona border. The first phase of the project includes a number of observation towers along the Nogales, Arizona border with Mexico. Additional options could include towers at over five other border sections in Arizona.

DHS’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has awarded Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Israeli based Elbit Systems, a $145 million contract for the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) project along the Mexico-Arizona border. The first phase of the project, which will take about a year to complete, includes a number of observation towers along the Nogales, Arizona border with Mexico. Defense-Update reports that additional options could include towers at over five other border sections in Arizona. The contract covers eight years of support from Elbit Systems.

“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our Southern border,” U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said. “If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in Southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border,” McCain added.

By issuing the IFT project to Elbit Systems, DHS bypassed some of its biggest American contractors to employ an Israeli company to help secure U.S. borders. “It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best,” Bloomberg quoted Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co., a government contracting consulting firm in Clarksville, Maryland. “A company with a track record of doing this work in Israel is likely to be much further advanced in this particular arena,” Amtower said.

Elbit Systems has deployed several border protection systems, including hundreds of kilometers of the separation line border fence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Since the establishment of that barrier, the number of terrorist acts against Israel has dropped dramatically. Elbit Systems has also provided key border security assets to the Israeli border with Gaza and Egypt, through the use of multi-sensor surveillance systems.

The first phase of the IFT project will be part of the CBP 2014 funding for Border Security Fencing Infrastructure and Technology (BSFIT), part of a procurement budget estimated at $77 million.

In addition to the IFT project, Elbit Systems has recommended for many years that DHS should adopt a more complete border security system which combines radar and electro-optical sensors, unattended ground sensors, unmanned air systems, and manned or unmanned ground vehicles to enhance agents’ flexibility and responsiveness. Defense-Update notes that “the integration of all sensors and systems through a common operating picture provides detailed information for detecting, tracking, identifying, and classifying items of interest; maximizing the efficacy of the mission.”

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