Virtual border fence may become a reality

Published: Apr. 9, 2012 at 9:20 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:27 PM MST
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The virtual border fence project is back a little more than a year after it was killed.

A test array of camera and sensor-equipped towers south of Tucson never worked properly, despite a billion tax payer dollars spent and year of work by Boeing, the main contractor.

But the government now thinks it can get something that does work by using off the shelf components for a lot less money.

It's called the Integrated Fixed Tower System and the government's 134 page request for proposals puts contractors on notice.

The government is currently taking bids from contractors. Analysts say the chosen contractor could earn $465 million for the full system.

The president's budget includes $90 million in funding for the initial phase, a single test tower outside Nogales. If that works additional towers would go up in Ajo, Sonoita, Douglas, Casa Grande and Wellton.

The system needs to meet certain goals that include being able to detect a single adult human on foot at a range of at least five miles, provide a near real-time video feed sharp enough to that it is a person, and do it day or night in winds of 10 mph or more.

DHS Customs and Border Protection says it is willing to drop the project if the work cannot meet the contract performance goals.

Bids are due by May 21. The first tower must be installed within a year after the deal is signed.

Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.