Brazil picks suppliers for electronic border fence

May 14, 2013 at 12:06 AM
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RIO DE JANEIRO, May 14 (UPI) -- Brazil's plans to build an electronic fence along its border with its 10 neighbors moved forward with what appears to be the final selection of local and foreign suppliers for the complex and costly network.

The Sistema Integrado de Monitoramento de Fronteiras known by its Portuguese acronym, Sisfron, is designed to monitor the borders and act as a shield against illegal incursions, including drug trafficking or hostile acts.

It's not clear if all 10,492 miles of Brazil's frontiers will be covered by Sisfron, which is expected to cost $6 billion. The Latin American giant shares borders with Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay , Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Last year Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's government hired the Tepro Consortium, an initiative of aviation and security giant Embraer, to pick and choose manufacturers and suppliers appropriate for the project.

Countries with experience of secure fence-building, including Israeli firms, have secured a business presence in Brazil because of the project.

Construction of Sisfron involves electromagnetic signaling, tactical communications, optronics and numerous infrastructure subsystems across vast system planned.

Embraer is fielding its own subsidiary companies experienced in security operations. Brazilian industry analysts see the Sisfron project as a major opportunity for the country's evolving defense and security industry, as it's likely to open potential new markets abroad.

The Tepro Consortium is formed by Savis Tecnologia e Sistemas and Orbisat Industria e Aerolevantamento, companies controlled by Embraer.

Suppliers chosen for the project include Stemac, a generator manufacturer; CM Comandos, manufacturer of power supply systems; Enecol and Casa da Floresta civilian infrastructure and environmental firm required for the infrastructure subsystem.

RFCom, a pioneering manufacturer of military shelters, will supply mobile equipment for Sisfron's subsystems.

Medav will deliver the electromagnetic signal sensor system, in conjunction with Orbisat, Harris will be responsible for tactical radios and AEL International will supply the optronics, Embraer said.

The Brazilian army conducted trade, industrial and technological offset negotiations that resulted in bringing to Brazil "a significant amount of investments" in production lines, technological development and product capability.

"We are honored by this opportunity to put Sisfron in place, because of everything this project means to Brazil," Savis President Marcus Tollendal said.

Orbisat President Mauricio Aveiro said the company was "committed to retaining and expanding the autonomous capability of the Brazilian defense industry by developing and producing sensors for Sisfron in Brazil."

Sisfron aims to deliver integrated border monitoring and control as part of Brazil's national defense strategy.

The Brazilian project has aroused some skepticism partly because of adverse publicity of U.S. efforts to operate an electronic barrier on its southern border.

One of its prominent critics, Sylvia Longmire, a former U.S. Air Force captain and security analyst called the U.S. virtual fence "a billion-dollar boondoggle that ended after five years and 53 miles of an electronic barrier that doesn't work."

Sisfron will help the Brazilian military to detect smuggling, terrorism and drug trafficking activities by enabling coordination with all organizations and government agencies responsible for monitoring and surveillance of the land borders, said on its website.

Scheduled to be implemented in stages, Sisfron is expected to be operational in 2015.

Sisfron will at first be implemented along Brazil's borders with Paraguay and Bolivia.

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