America's Premier Aircraft Builder Goes To Ground
The Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) awarded an industry team led by Boeing the
contract to provide border security under the technology component
of the department's Secure Border Initiative (SBI), SBInet.
In a release, Boeing says its team was selected over a field of
major domestic and international teams in a competition that began
earlier this year. They say their solution is based on proven, low
risk, off-the-shelf technology and that it will significantly
improve the availability of information and tools to Border Patrol
President of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems George Muellner
said, "Being selected to support Customs and Border Protection as
they secure our nation's borders is a testament to the strength of
our team and the expertise, talent and focus that we bring to this
task. Our team is absolutely committed to making SBInet a success,
and we are ready to respond immediately to our customer in the
detailed design and deployment of this critical solution to enhance
our nation's border security system."
The contract, worth an estimated $80 million, marks the start of
an initiative aimed at securing the US borders with Mexico and
Boeing is to focus on a "high-traffic," 28-mile stretch of
border south of Tucson, AZ.
Despite its reputation as an aviation company, Boeing's primary
focus for this job is ground-based equipment -- fencing, unmanned
towers, communications and sensor equipment -- all integrated to
provide agents with real-time data on border activity.
According to Defensetech.org, there are plans to employ a few
UAVs, but these will be small, automobile launched craft with
Boeing's plan is not without its critics.
T. J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council
representing 11,000 agents told the Washington Post that giving
agents a better sense of who is crossing the border and where
wouldn't do much good on its own.
Bonner says, "Surveillance technology can be useful if you have
enough people on the ground to respond to it. But if you don't, you
just have to file it away because you're too busy with the first 50
people that the cameras caught. It's not the solution to the
illegal immigration problem. The solution is denying access to jobs
so people don't come across in the first place."
A successful effort by Boeing on its initial effort south of
Tucson could prove quite lucrative for the aerospace giant. $80
million for 28 miles of border could translate to $2.5 billion for
the entire 6000 miles of border DHS wants to protect.
It's not surprising Boeing is willing to give up some of it
flying toys for a piece of that pie!