Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 19, 2006

Boeing wins Secure Border Initiative contract

Filed under: Border Security,Business of HLS — by Christian Beckner on September 19, 2006

According to stories in Wednesday’s New York Times and Washington Post, The Boeing Company has won the DHS contract for the Secure Border Initiative (SBI). From the latter story:

Aerospace and defense giant Boeing Co. has won a multibillion-dollar contract to revamp how the United States guards about 6,000 miles of border in an attempt to curb illegal immigration, congressional sources said yesterday.

Boeing’s proposal relied heavily on a network of 1,800 towers — most of which would need to be erected along the borders with Mexico and Canada. Each tower would be equipped with a variety of sensors, including cameras and heat and motion detectors.

The company’s efforts would be the basis of the government’s latest attempt to control U.S. borders after a series of failures. The contract, part of the Secure Border Initiative and known as SBInet, will again test the ability of technology to solve a problem that lawmakers have called a critical national security concern. This time, the private sector is being given an unusually large say in how to do it.

Boeing sold its plan to the Department of Homeland Security as less risky and less expensive than competing proposals that would have relied heavily on drones for routine surveillance work. Boeing plans only limited use of small unmanned aerial vehicles that could be launched from the backs of Border Patrol trucks when needed to help pursue suspects.

For more on Boeing’s bid, see this Bloomberg story from August and Boeing’s initial press release on SBI from May.

Update (9/20): More analysis on the decision (which appears will be officially announced on Thursday) from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Update (9/21): The official announcement was made today by DHS. You can read the transcript of the press briefing at this link.

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