Neoconopticon is reporting that the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) project is to be shelved and replaced with off-the shelf surveillance equipment (UAVs etc.).
The project which was based on contracts with Boeing and Raytheon, had been in trouble for some time. I reported back in 2009 how Boeing had basically wasted most of the money on the Mexican border projects on systems that didn’t work. Neoconopticon gives the figure of $3.7Bn for the project, but in fact estimated costs for the longer-term maintenance just of the Mexican fence component had spiralled to over $10Bn.
The original source for this news, Defence Industry Daily, has a good timeline.
I am left wondering however about whether this cancellation might have anything to do with the discussions that were recently revealed on the North American Perimeter project, which I blogged back in December last year. A complete North American perimeter might reduce the pressure to add further security to the US-Canadian border at least, and Canadian government funds and people could be leveraged by the US, as they were during the Cold War with the DEW Line and BMEWS. A summit on the issue between US President, Barack Obama, and Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, had been scheduled for January and was recently pushed back into February, which has given time for the decision on the cancellation of the SBI.
This could all be coincidence, but it is certainly interesting timing…