A new system of surveillance towers deployed in the Nogales area has met testing milestones and is now available to the Border Patrol for operational use.
Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Israeli based Elbit Systems, announced Thursday that its Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) border surveillance system had met the milestones after “several months of construction, integration and test activity.”
That testing confirmed that the system meets requirements that include being able to detect, track, identify, and classify movement on the border, Elbit said.
“The IFT program is a critical element within our broader technology and surveillance strategy for the Arizona border,” said Mark Borkowski of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, in a news release. “When fully deployed, we expect the system will significantly increase the awareness, safety, and operational effectiveness of our Border Patrol resources.”
CBP announced in March 2014 that it had awarded Elbit a $145-million contract for the IFT system, the initial $23-million phase of which included towers in the Calabasas, Pesqueira, and Alamo canyons west of Nogales, as well as the Wild Hog and Yerba Buena canyons east of Kino Springs and near the checkpoint on Interstate 19. More towers could eventually be built near Sonoita, Douglas, Ajo, Casa Grande and Wellton.
According to Elbit, the IFT system provides the Border Patrol “long-range, 360-degree, all-weather, and persistent surveillance capability” that provides agents “a high degree of situation awareness along the border” as well as an increased level of safety.
“We are pleased with the results of the system acceptance testing and by working closely with CBP, we are able to announce that we have achieved significant milestones for the first deployment of IFT,” said Elbit Systems CEO Raanan Horowitz in the news release. “We are confident that the system will meet the agents’ expectations and operational needs.”
The tower system is designed to replace the similar, but unsuccessful SBInet system built by Boeing Co. along the Arizona-Mexico border. After spending more than $1 billion on the project, then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano scrapped it in 2011.