Elbit Systems Security Tower

An Elbit Systems of America tower on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Elbit Systems of America, the American subsidiary of Israeli aerospace and defense company Elbit Systems, was recently awarded an approximately $26 million contract from the United States Customs and Border Protection to install an integrated fixed towers system in the U.S. Border Patrol Casa Grande Area of Responsibility in Arizona.

The tower system will be installed on the land of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which occupies a majority of the Casa Grande AoR. Ten new towers and a new command center will be deployed within a year. 

“Elbit Systems of America is honored to have been selected by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Tohono O’odham Nation to provide a solution to suit the needs of those living and working along the border in the Casa Grande Area of Responsibility,” President and Chief Executive Officer Ranaan Horowitz said. “This project clearly demonstrates our company’s mission to provide innovative solutions that protect and save lives.”

The technology the American division will install in the Casa Grande AoR is part of a larger contract Elbit Systems of America has with the CBP. 

Gordon Kesting, the vice president of homeland security at Elbit Systems of America, said that in the next year there would be 65 towers to monitor more than 250 linear miles of the border. 

“The Customs and Border Protection have exercised six options to deploy towers into the six areas of responsibility,” Kesting said. “They also award us logistic support to keep the systems up and running.”

Currently, there are 55 of these integrated fixed towers deployed in Arizona and they cover more than 200 linear miles of the border. 

All of the towers were installed on Arizona’s southern border and they are similar to what Elbit Systems in Israel has for the separation line border fence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Elbit Systems has also provided key border security assets to the Israeli border with Gaza and Egypt, through the use of multi-sensor surveillance systems.

The tower systems comprise of two different types of towers: communication and sensor towers. Both are needed for the system to work properly. The towers can be used in day and night.  

This new contract continues the relationship between Elbit Systems of America and the CBP, which began in 2014. At the time, Elbit Systems of America was awarded a $145 million contract along the Mexico-Arizona border. The first tower system was installed outside of Nogales, Arizona in 2015. 

The late Sen. John McCain spoke in favor of the IFT systems when the contract was first awarded in 2014. 

“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,” McCain said.

Although the first Arizona towers were installed in 2015, Elbit Systems of America are continuing to evolve and advanced the technology in order to further assist the CBP.

The tower system provides 24/7 monitoring of the border through 360-degree, long-range surveillance. Each tower is fitted with an array of cameras and radars. Border Patrol agents can oversee all forms of activity from control centers. 

The camera and radar technology is advanced enough to spot the most minute of details. According to Kesting, the cameras are able to spot specific items and clothing from dozens of miles away. All of this provides more information for CBP and can help them react accordingly to anyone crossing. 

In addition to the towers, Elbit Systems of America also provides mobile surveillance systems, drone technology and unattended ground sensors at the border as well. 

The company’s work in border security technology has not gone unrewarded. In 2016, Elbit Systems of America was named the winner of the Most Notable Border Security Program Award by Government Security News for the IFT deployment to the CBP.

Kesting added that since Elbit Systems of America’s contracts with Arizona are coming to a close with the installation of this final IFT system, the company will soon begin developing towers in other border states. 

“CBP does have acquirements for additional towers for California, New Mexico and Texas,” Kesting said. “They are now putting together procurement plans for those additional towers. We think we’re in a good position to supply more towers to improve border security.” JN

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