Following successful completion of systems acceptance testing, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has deployed the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) system in an area of Arizona, marking the second deployment of the surveillance systems aimed at helping Border Patrol agents gain greater situational awareness of the U.S. border with Mexico.
“We achieved this important milestone by working closely with CBP and understanding their agents’ needs,” says Raanan Horowitz, president and CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Texas-based business of Israel’s Elbit Systems [ESLT], said in a statement on Monday. Elbit is the prime contractor for IFT, which consists of number of towers in each area of operations equipped with radars and cameras for round-the-clock, all-weather, 360-degree surveillance to detect, track, identify and classify activity along the border.
The Douglas deployment consists of eight sensor towers and two communication towers.
The Douglas deployment follows the first installation of an IFT system in the Nogales, Ariz., area of operations in the summer of 2015. The system in Douglas was originally expected to be operating by the end of 2016. In May 2016, CBP said that an IFT system was expected to begin installation in the Sonoita, Ariz., area of responsibility with a completion date this summer. A CBP spokesman told Defense Daily that the Sonoita deployment is in “the later stages of installation.”
Elbit says that the IFT program is meeting customer performance and schedule requirements and cost goals.
In addition to the radar and communications equipment, the deployments include command and control software to fuse the sensor information to provide a single operating picture that is networked into Border Patrol station command and control centers.
Under the Trump administration, technology solutions for border security are taking a back seat to physical barriers along the nation’s southern border. CBP’s overall request for border security assets and infrastructure in FY ’18 is $1.7 billion, with nearly $1.6 billion of that proposed for physical barriers.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved an FY ’18 funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that includes $784 million for 32 miles of new border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), Texas, area, $498 million for 28 miles of new levee wall in the RGV, and $251 million for 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego.
In addition to the funding for physical barriers, the committee matched the requested amounts for border security technology, including $17.4 million for the IFT system, $20 million for unattended ground sensors, $9 million for work on cross border tunnel threats, and $1.6 million for Mobile Video Surveillance Systems (MVSS). The MVSS systems are supplied by the Tactical Micro unit of Secure Technology Company.
The FY ’18 IFT request is to fund a system for deployment on the Tohono O’odham Nation.