Libya Buys Border Control System from SELEX
Border control and domestic security systems are becoming an important export category for many defense suppliers. Finmeccanica subsidiary SELEX Sistemi Integrati recently announced a EUR 300 million (currently $442 million) contract with Libya for a large Border Security and Control System. The first tranche of EUR 150 million has already started.
Finmeccanica will provide all the typical functions of a C3 (Command, Control & Communication) system, such as command decision support tools, information processing, integration of data gathered by different sensors, the sensors themselves, and emergency management. SELEX-SI has prime responsibility for the architecture of Large Systems within Finmeccanica, and they will design, install and integrate all the subsystems on behalf of their customer, The Libyan General People’s Committee for General Security. SELEX-SI will also be responsible for the training of operators and maintenance staff, as well as the completion of all associated civil infrastructures required by the contract. Finmeccanica release.
Given the nature of Libya’s regime, and recent events, this contract may acquire a more political context…
Libya is not a free country by any standard. That may raise concerns, given the inherent nature of widely deployed domestic security surveillance systems. Nevertheless, the same circumstances created no ripples with respect to EADS’ EUR 2+ billion contract with Saudi Arabia, which earns a similar “not free” rating that’s only marginally better than Libya’s.
On the flip side, Qaddafi has made important geo-political strides by renouncing terrorism and revealing, then dismantling, Libya’s surprisingly advanced nuclear weapons program. These efforts have earned his country re-engagement from several quarters, and Italy’s geographic closeness across the Mediterranean has fostered a long-standing defense relationship the predated Libya’s isolation. In January 2008, therefore, Libya bought an ATR-42MP maritime patrol aircraft from Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia.
Libya also has neighbors that are engaged in civil wars, and have significant al-Qaeda activity within their borders. Algeria and Sudan both have Libyan borders, and Sudan has been exporting its violence into another Libyan neighbor, Chad. This makes border surveillance a higher priority than it might otherwise be, and improves the odds that the system will be seen as an positive development outside of Libya.
At the same time, Libya has found itself in the news again lately due to Britain’s recent release of a Lockerbie terrorist, and Libya’s warm welcome home. Today’s terrorist attack in Italy will also draw attention, even if, as is likely, Libya’s government has no involvement in the matter.
The considerations are unlikely to derail Finmeccanica’s recent sale, but they will be present, and may find themselves cited in any public controversy that may result.
Aug 10/10: A Finmeccanica release says that the Libyan deal was signed in early August 2010.