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Raytheon ready to compete for initial ‘Integrated Fixed Towers’ award from CBP

TJ Kennedy

Having met the official May 30th deadline to submit its proposal to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Raytheon Company is eager to compete with other prospective prime contractors for the lead role in integrating a fixed tower, a set of sensors and a command and control system near Nogales, AZ, that will comprise the first phase of a major CBP initiative, known as ”Integrated Fixed Towers.”

Drawing on its long history of developing and implementing sophisticated radar-based air traffic control systems -- as well as systems that can track the flight of missiles -- Raytheon believes its strongest advantage will be its expertise in command and control systems. Its proposed system will present a unified picture to Border Patrol operators that will enhance their “situational awareness,” according to TJ Kennedy, Raytheon’s director of public safety and security, who is spearheading the company’s quest for the sole Integrated Fixed Towers contract.

Kennedy told GSN during an exclusive phone interview on June 5 that Raytheon will base its development of a command and control system in Arizona on its own Clear View command and control system, which it has been promoting with CBP officials for almost two years, as reported in GSN on Oct. 17, 2010.  

“Essentially, the Clear View system enables a command-and-control center to receive inputs from a wide variety of sensors -- such as video surveillance cameras, radar systems, ground sensors, thermal imaging equipment, etc. -- and identify individuals, or groups of people, on the ground making their way toward the U.S. border,” GSN reported in 2010. “Much as an air traffic control system will designate a specific aircraft in the sky, monitor its path, and predict where it’s heading and at what time it will arrive, Raytheon’s Clear View system can distinguish a human being from a similarly-sized animal (with the help of video analytic software), monitor his or her progress, and predict when that immigrant can be expected to arrive at the U.S. border.”

Kennedy said the command and control system it has proposed will meet the RFP’s requirements for a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system because its technology has largely been proven in the past. “This is COTS integration, rather than raw development,” he told GSN.

Under the CBP’s RFP, the selected prime contractor will install one fixed tower, the associated video, radar and other sensors, and the command and control center that will receive -- and make sense of -- all those inputs. If that first tower works as planned, the CBP may expand to five additional towers in Arizona, the RFP explains.

“After that works, funding permitting, CBP has the goal to spread it to New Mexico and elsewhere,” said Kennedy. “It could be used on the northern border as well.” (DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano unveiled a new Northern Border Strategy document on June 6, as reported by GSN.)

Kennedy expects CBP to review this summer all of the proposals it has received, including proposals that he expects will have been submitted by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing and other major systems integrators. He expects that the most promising submissions will be invited to a “fly-off,” at which the prospective contractors could show off their capabilities in separate live demonstrations.

Kennedy says Raytheon has deployed such a demonstration site “somewhere in the southwestern area,” but he declined to identify its specific location. Similarly, he acknowledged that Raytheon had pulled together a team on potential subcontractors, but declined to identify any of the individual companies, “for competitive reasons.”

Kennedy said he and his Raytheon colleagues are “excited” to have submitted a proposal that they consider to be both “cost-effective” and “low-risk.” Nonetheless, he acknowledges there is likely to be stiff competition.

“It’s never fun to lose,” said the Raytheon executive, “and it’s always important to win.”