Saudi Arabia has approved the procurement
of a huge C4I security network worth $9.4 billion as part of a project to
ensure border security, according to a new report.
The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the
Saudi Interior Ministry has approved a system developed by the Paris-based
Thales that would establish a security zone along the 6,500 kilometers of
the kingdom's land and sea borders. The report said the system would undergo
installation starting in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The report was co-authored by former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman
and Saudi security consultant Nawaf Obaid. The report cited Obaid as a consultant
to the Saudi security services.
In March, French industry sources said Saudi Arabia was prepared to sign
with Thales an estimated $8.8 billion deal for the C4I system. Riyad refused
to confirm nor deny the report, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The Ministry of Interior has approved a $9.4 billion contract with the
French government to install an electronic defensive shield along this
border in the fall of 2004," the report, "Saudi Internal Security: A Risk
For a decade, Saudi Arabia has been examining proposals for a border
surveillance system that would use patrol aircraft, unmanned air vehicles
vehicles, and early warning systems to detect intruders and border
crossings. The report said Riyad has sought a 12 kilometer-deep security
zone around all 6,500 kilometers of the land and sea borders.
Such a system would integrate acoustic, seismic, radar, magnetic, and
infrared sensors to detect movements of people and vehicles in the border
area. In 1990, Thomson CSF, the predecessor of Thales, completed a $5
In 1991, Thomson and E Systems led separate consortiums that submitted
bids for the border security system. The report said the system was not
funded because of cost and the assessment that the border network could be
At that time, the report said, the estimated cost of the security system
was $3 billion. Saudi Arabia was told the system would require several years
"These problems are expected to be solved by the installation of a much
more technically sophisticated system," the report said.