Rowdy Adams, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s deputy executive director for the SBInet border security program, says one of the lessons learned from SBInet’s troubled early days was the need for “a bunch more testing in the field and lab.”
Boeing, the integrator, is going to be doing some of that testing in a remote New Mexico mining town-turned-testbed. Under scrutiny: the hardiness of permanent sensor and communications towers that will form part of a virtual fence in the desert straddled by the U.S.-Mexico border
The towers, three equipped with sensors and one with microwave communications equipment, are being tested in Playas, N.M. to simulate the environment expected when they are deployed for Block I of Boeing’s SBInet contract, says Jack Chenevey, SBInet’s latest program manager.
Chenevey told a border security conference sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement that the Block 1 project along the border near Tucson, Ariz. is expected to begin deployment in the first quarter of calendar 2009.
Unlike the temporary towers used for the initial P-28 project, which constructed a 28-mile steel fence backed by a virtual fence of sensors, cameras and radar, the Block 1 towers will be more rigid and permanently located.
(Credit: New Mexico Tech)
The testing will be done at a facility run by New Mexico Tech in Playas, about halfway between Las Cruces, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., and 40 miles from the Mexican border. The school bought the defunct town and 1,200 surrounding acres for $5 million in 2003. Most residents moved away after copper-smelting operations ended in 1999. Playas is also used for first responder and counter-IED training.