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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Boeing Wins Contract for Border Security

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Boeing Co. will be awarded an $80 million government contract to provide new high-tech ways to catch illegal immigrants trying to cross U.S. land borders, a congressional aide said.

The Department of Homeland Security was expected to announce as early as Wednesday the contract to help secure the Mexican and Canadian borders. The full project had previously been estimated at $2 billion, but the Boeing award will be less, said the congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the department had not yet made its announcement.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Jarrod Agen would not comment. "Legally we are restricted from discussing details of the contract until the award is officially announced," Agen said Wednesday.

Boeing spokesman Dan Beck also declined to comment pending a formal announcement from the government.

Chicago-based Boeing was among several major defense companies competing for the job. While other companies' proposals relied more heavily on using flying drones to patrol the border, Boeing focused on a network of 1,800 high-tech towers, equipped with cameras and motion detectors, that could feed live information to Border Patrol agents.

The Boeing-led team's victory was reported in several newspapers Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

The contract, part of the Secure Border Initiative, is the government's latest attempt to use advanced technology to solve the illegal immigration problem, which lawmakers have called a national security issue and which has given new attention in light of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security gave companies chasing the contract - including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. - unusual freedom to come up with their own ideas for how best to apply new and developing technologies to the problem.

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