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A unique solution for U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Joseph J. Battaglia

Acquisition cost versus life-cycle cost has always been a trade-off, often difficult to assess, usually very subjective, and frequently leaving U.S. Government procurement agencies to assume higher risk than necessary in their supplier selection process. 

For U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Telephonics Corp.’s solution for the Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC) and the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) network solves this dilemma by providing both low acquisition costs and low life-cycle cost. 

In today’s tight budget environment, we are all faced with the challenge of making the maximum use of the limited funds that are available. To maintain our country’s operational readiness both at home and abroad, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security must provide their people on the front lines the necessary equipment and support in the most cost effective manner. 

The Telephonics MSC is already providing a significant leap forward in mobile surveillance at a very cost effective price. By combining not only the unique capabilities of the MSC platform, but the actual hardware itself, with those of the emerging IFT network, U.S. CBP has an excellent opportunity to realize significant savings for many years to come -- along with a high degree of flexibility that comes with the ability to interchange fixed installations with mobile assets, as necessary. 

As another of the numerous systems CBP intends to deploy and operate along the southern border of the United States, the IFT network of fixed towers with surveillance sensor suites (radar, infrared sensors, laser ranging devices and cameras) represents the most advanced, high technology solution available. Agents at a command-and-control center are provided a Common Operating Picture for their finite Area of Responsibility (AOR). 

Telephonics’ solution for IFT uses the exact same surveillance sensor suite as that used on CBP’s existing MSC vehicles (less the 30 foot telescoping mast). This unique, combined IFT/MSC approach significantly reduces the acquisition cost of both systems by allowing larger quantity purchases of major components and steeper learning curves for assembly and test, as quantities are increased to fulfill both system requirements. 

A Telephonics IFT/MSC concept of operation not only reduces acquisition costs, but it would also significantly reduce the overall life-cycle cost associated with maintaining separate depot facilities, diverse test equipment, inventory of different spare parts, commonality of technical maintenance and operator training and publications, to mention a few. With the sensors being a sizeable part of these types of surveillance systems, the yearly savings associated with the reduced logistics footprint would be significant. 

Finally, in addition to the tremendous cost savings represented by this common sensor suite approach, a CBP concept of operation that leverages the mobile capability of its MSC assets with the significant fixed infrastructure investment of its IFT solution will provide mission flexibility that addresses ever-changing border conditions. Most importantly, this approach equips the agents with the surveillance capability they need and deserve in carrying out their difficult mission. 

By using the MSC platform as a mobile extension of its IFT towers and communications network, the agents will have the operational flexibility to contend with the complex and dynamic illegal activities associated with the nation’s borders. Mobile MSC platforms can easily be moved around, added or removed from existing IFT AORs to address expanding and contracting surveillance requirements that are inevitable, as border conditions change. 

Joseph J. Battaglia is President and Chief Executive Officer of Telephonics Corporation. He can be reached at:

jbattaglia@telephonics.com