West Bank Separation Barrier Technology Coming to U.S.-Mexico Border

Israel's Elbit beats top U.S. defense firms to $145 million deal.

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Elbit Systems, the Israeli defense contractor that provides security surveillance along the separation barrier with the West Bank, will soon be providing similar technology along the United States-Mexico border.

The U.S. last week passed over some of its biggest defense contractors and awarded a subsidiary of Elbit a $145 million contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona.

The current contract is for one year, but Bloomberg analyst Brian Friel said the Elbit program could reach $1 billion if Congress passes immigration reform and expands funding for the project in the American southwest.

Among the American firms bypassed were Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon, Bloomberg reported, citing an industries analyst.

Boeing was selected in 2006 to create a "virtual fence" along the Mexico border, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security froze funding for that system due to repeated technical glitches and delays.

It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best, Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co., a government contracting consulting firm in Clarksville, Maryland, told Bloomberg.

Amtower added that Israel, which has experience with border security is liable to be much further advanced in this particular arena."

The observation towers to be installed along the U.S.-Mexican border include sensors for spotting, tracking, and classifying intelligence, as well as command and control centers.

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, said Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona in a statement last week.

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," he said.

The security barrier in Qalqilyah. Credit: Alex Levac
West Bank separation fence. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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