SAIC Sells Imaging Systems to Customs Service

Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego was awarded a $15.2 million contract from the U.S. Customs Service for 16 additional Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS), the company announced.

The Customs Service initially ordered 11 units in October 1999, all of which have been delivered and deployed.

The Mobile VACIS is a truck-mounted, gamma-ray imaging system designed to non-intrusively inspect trucks, containers, cargo and passenger vehicle contents for explosive devices or contraband. It can be assembled or disassembled by two people in about 10 minutes, moved quickly and scan a moving or stationary 40-foot container in less than 20 seconds.

The contract was awarded to SAIC's Technology Integration and Products Group. SAIC has sold the imaging systems under the General Services Administration schedule since 1998. The Customs Service will operate the units at various sites throughout the United States.

In July 1999, the Customs Service awarded SAIC a series of contracts valued at $25 million for fixed-site VACIS IIs, which use the same gamma-ray technology and inspect cargo containers. SAIC has successfully installed most VACIS IIs at various U.S. ports of entry on land and at sea.

The VACIS technology was initially developed to inspect stationary, steel-walled tanker trucks for illegal drugs. Its early success expanded its use to a wider range of vehicles and cargo containers.

With VACIS, operators can view the gamma-ray images on a video monitor to identify false walls or ceilings and other secret compartments typically associated with the transportation of drugs, explosives and weapons.

Operators searching for stolen or smuggled goods can use the VACIS images to determine whether the cargo is consistent with the declared manifest.

Another version of the VACIS, the Stolen Automobile Recovery System (STARS), has been used at the Port of Miami to inspect sealed cargo containers for stolen automobiles destined for Central and South America. The insurance industry estimates that the illegal shipping of stolen automobiles abroad represents a $200 million annual loss for insurance companies.

In October 2000, SAIC received orders for seven STARS units from the Jacksonville Port Authority, Port Everglades and Port of Miami, totaling nearly $2 million.

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