The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli defense firm Elbit has been awarded a $145 million contract by the US Department of Homeland Security to construct a series of surveillance towers on Arizona’s border with Mexico, the company announced on Sunday.
The project, called Integrated Fixed Tower Project (IFT), plans to see security posts equipped with radars and cameras that can detect human movement spring up along the American state’s southern frontier. The work is to be carried out by Elbit’s US subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, which is based at Fort Worth, Texas.
Construction of the towers will take around a year, the company said. It declined to provide further details.
Last week, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, released a statement welcoming the contract.
“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” he said.
“After many months of delay, the awarding of this contract to Elbit Systems of America is an important development toward fully securing the border in Arizona. 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 stated. “The American people have long expected us to secure our borders.
The awarding of this contract is a step in the right direction.”
In May, the US-based Defense News website reported that “the IFT program is an ambitious attempt to install a series of surveillance towers along the US/Mexico border. The idea is to deploy a series of networked, integrated fixed towers equipped with radar and cameras that will ‘be able to detect a single, walking, average- sized adult’ at a range of 5 miles [8 km.] to 7.5 miles [12 km.] during day or night, while sending close to real-time video footage back to agents manning a command post.”
Defense News added that the IFT program comes after a previous border security program, called the Secure Border initiative (SBI), was canceled in 2011 despite the government spending $1 billion over the course of six years. That effort that saw just 85 km. of the 626-km.
border covered by the program, the report said.
In his statement last week, McCain vowed to “make certain we do not have another mistake like the SBInet project that set back for years the deployment of needed technology.”