Raytheon vows immediate results on SBI-Net

Raytheon Co. officials today pledged to move quickly, offer the best value and use only proven technologies if they win the contract for the $2 billion Secure Border Initiative-Network border surveillance system from the Homeland Security Department.

The Raytheon-led team expects to leverage its experience as a prime integrator on a similarly huge remote surveillance network in Brazil and rely on existing technologies and telecommunications infrastructure available from its major partners in the project, including Bechtel Co., Verizon Inc. and Alltel Corp.

The surveillance system in Brazil was established to protect the resources of the Amazon River Basin against illegal mining and logging activities.

"We're ready to go on this," Matthew Gilligan, Raytheon's program manager for SBI-Net, said at a briefing today. "We've got the experience set that says, 'We can do this.'"

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the Secure Border project in November 2005 as one of the Bush administration's top priorities. Teams led by Boeing Co., Ericsson Inc., Lockheed-Martin Corp., Northrop-Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co., are competing for the contract. An award is expected at the end of September.

Raytheon of Waltham, Mass., expects to draw on only proven technologies for the 6,000-mile border surveillance system, Gilligan said. The goal is to integrate sensors into a common operational picture for use by border agents. Sensors and cameras will be deployed on various platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles, airborne vehicles and tethered aerostats, he said.

Raytheon executives are touting the company's experience as the prime integrator for the $1.4 billion Amazon surveillance network initiated in 1994. That network, which is now operating, combines radars and myriad sensors into a multi-level integrated network monitored by regional and national coordination centers.

The Raytheon team also sees a competitive advantage in being able to use existing wireless cellular phone networks, towers and expertise from team members on the project, Jon Goding, Raytheon's technical director for SBI-Net, said at the briefing.

With Verizon and Alltel's help, Raytheon has the option of making available to border agents commercial cell phone service in areas throughout the southwestern region and northern border, Goding said. That will help keep the cost down for developing Secure Border's communications networks for border control agents. "We can offer the best value," Goding said.

Also at the briefing, Raytheon demonstrated a geographic software program called the Sensor Terrain Analysis Tool Solution to show how the computer can assist in finding the best location for cameras and sensors. The software offers users a chance to move a sensor around a specific terrain to find a location that maximizes coverage of potential threats.

The Raytheon team also demonstrated its Common Operational Picture software, which has a Google Earth map interface. A user can zoom into a geographic area in which there are identified threats, and the user can identify the likely geographic movement of those threats to help in planning an interception.

In other details, the Raytheon team members said their proposal does not use facial recognition software at a distance, though it may use such software within a biometric identification program to be applied once an alien is captured after crossing the border.

While the Homeland Security Department did not specify a requirement to deploy sensors for radiological materials or biological threats in the SBI-Net system, the Raytheon team members said they anticipate that such a requirement may be added at a later date, and they have planned to integrate those capabilities if needed.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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