World

U.S. to put high-tech towers along borders: report

Boeing Co. will be awarded a government contract worth $80-million US to provide new high-tech ways to catch illegal immigrants trying to cross land borders into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico, a congressional aide said.

Boeing Co. will be awarded a government contract worth$80-million USto provide new high-tech ways to catch illegal immigrants trying to cross land borders into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico, a congressional aide said.

The Department of Homeland Security was expected to announce as early as Wednesday the contract to help secure the borders, which reportedly focuses on a network of high-tech guard towers, camerasand motion detectors.

The full project had previously been estimated at $2 billion US, but the Boeing award will be less, said the congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the department had not yet made its announcement.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Jarrod Agen would not comment.

"Legally we are restricted from discussing details of the contract until the award is officially announced," Agen said Wednesday.

Chicago-based Boeing was among several major defence companies competing for the job. While other companies' proposals relied more heavily on using flying drones to patrol the border, Boeing focused on a network of 1,800 high-tech towers, equipped with cameras and motion detectors, that could feed live information to Border Patrol agents.

The Boeing-led team's victory was reported in several newspapers Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

The contract, part of the Secure Border Initiative, is the government's latest attempt to use advanced technology to solve the illegal immigration problem, which lawmakers have called a national security issue and which has been given new attention in light of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security gave companies chasing the contract— including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. — unusual freedom to come up with their own ideas for how best to apply new and developing technologies to the problem.