Back in 2014, Elbit Systems of America, a branch of Israel’s Elbit Systems were given a potential nine-year, $147.3 million contract to build and maintain Integrated Fixed Tower systems across the southern border of America.
In 2019, news came that the sixth and final integrated fixed tower system was planned to be installed in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona.
The nation’s tribal lands expand into Mexican territory, and so is a popular place for crossing over the border between Mexico and the U.S.
So what are the IFT systems for?
Elbit’s Integrated Fixed Tower system is made up of command and control centers, as well as a network of multi-tower, multi-sensor systems built to continuously monitor portions of the border. Information from these towers is then sent to command and control to provide agents with constant, wide-ranged surveillance and awareness, allowing for a fast and appropriate response from Border Patrol. This has been manufactured to increase the safety of border patrol guards working across the border.
The IFT systems are built to detect targets and come with day and night cameras to allow Border Patrol agents to track, identify and classify targets, which they can then relay back to field agents, who can, in turn, move to intercept any illegal activity.
Elbit has constructed five of these command and control centers for border agents across the country, in Tucson, Nogales, Douglas, Sonoita, and Ajo, each operating up to 12 towers.
Alongside the towers, Elbit has created 6-foot automated drones which have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly pre-programmed flight paths along the borders. Patrol agents would be able to use to survey difficult-to-reach areas as well as to monitor and identify any potential breaches along the wall.
Are these systems working?
There is a lot of evidence to say that the Fixed Towers System offered by Israeli military tech manufacturer, Elbit Systems Ltd., is working well.
For one thing, the US Government seems to think it’s doing its job. Elbit was awarded an additional $26 million contract in order to provide the Fixed Tower System across Arizona. The towers were initially installed in 2019, but have been reselected by the US department of Defence and Homeland Security in 2020.
It’s easy to see why the Fixed Tower System will do its job well. These towers are 200 yards upslope and 80-120 ft, with a radius of 7.5 miles available to them. Even if the unaided eye can’t see as far as 7.5 miles, there is a reason to suspect that anyone aiming to get past the wall might not even try.
The theory of the panopticon, for example, puts a single guard in a single guard tower in the center of a donut-shaped prison, with the aim being that the prisoners all know that they can be seen at any given moment, but don’t know when, and therefore will govern themselves at all times to avoid being caught.
It could be the case that simply giving the illusion of an impenetrable wall is enough to deter anyone from trying.