Boeing's Border Control

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is getting started on its $2 billion contract from the Homeland Security Dept. to build a 6,000-foot "virtual fence" along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. The Chicago-based company will spread the work among nine major subcontractors.* The first phase is scheduled to be completed by May, 2007, and includes 28 miles of high-tech protection along the Mexican border at Sasabe, Ariz.

The heart of the fence is 1,800 sensor towers equipped with radar, cameras, and other gadgets to help Customs & Border Protection detect and prevent unwanted visitors from entering the U.S. With Boeing's (BA ) help, BusinessWeek presents the first tour of Homeland Security's virtual fence:


-- A single agent can launch and control a UAS, also known as a drone airplane, which weighs as little as 10 lbs. and can track suspects within a 6-mile range for up to 90 minutes.

-- Kollsman Inc. is the leading contender for the contract.


-- Rising 80-ft. to 200-ft. tall, depending on the terrain, they come with radar equipment that can spot and home in on movement.

-- DRS Surveillance & Reconnaissance Group (DRS ) is building the first nine towers, Kollsman is providing the electro-optical and infrared cameras, and L-3 Government Services Inc. (LLL ) is constructing the base.


-- Agents will be able to talk, get data and possibly video anywhere in the world without losing their signal, even in canyons or other places that don't have cellular towers.

-- Iridium Satellite will set up the system.

-- Motorola (MOT ) leads the pack of contenders vying to provide the phones.

*Other major companies involved in the project include: Unisys Global Public Sector, USIS, Centech Group, Perot Systems, Lucent Technologies. Data: Boeing Co.

By Dawn Kopecki

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