RIYADH (AFP) — European aerospace and defence contractor EADS has signed a contract with Saudi Arabia to build a high-tech security fence on 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) of the country’s border, the company said on Wednesday.
In a long-awaited deal, EADS Defence and Security, a subsidiary of the French-German conglomerate, is expected to create a system of security posts and surface and aerial monitoring of Saudi land and sea borders over the next five years, the company announced.
The project “will ensure border coverage is visible and managed at the sector level, whilst simultaneously providing situational awareness at the regional and national level,” the company said.
EADS said it is the prime contractor for the project, which comes in addition to an already-underway border security project for Saudi Arabia’s northern border with Iraq in which EADS is taking part.
EADS’ partner in both projects is the Saudi contractor Al Rashid Trading and Contracting Co.
The contract was signed on Tuesday in the Red Sea city of Jeddah with top EADS and Saudi officials present, sources told AFP.
EADS gave no value to the deal, but French weekly magazine Le Point reported on Wednesday that it was worth about two billion euros (2.8 billion dollars).
The so-called MIKSA project was first envisaged in the 1990s in the wake of the first Gulf War to secure Saudi Arabia’s border with Iraq with physical fencing and high-tech monitoring.
But with increased worries over infiltration into the country by anti-government militants and Al-Qaeda operatives, especially from the southern border with Yemen and a rise in illegal immigration from around the region, the Saudi interior ministry expanded the scope of the programme to fence and electronically monitor all the country’s borders.
French defence and telecom group Thales was originally favoured to win the contract but since last year, diplomats and industry sources have said the French-German giant EADS would get the deal.
Also in the bidding for the deal were Raytheon of the United States and Britain’s BAE Systems.