DHS awards contracts for commercial anti-missile systems

The Homeland Security Department has awarded a pair of $45 million contracts to BEA Systems North America Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to develop and test prototype systems for protecting commercial aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles.

The awards represent a downselect from three companies, including United Airlines Inc., who won $2 million deals in January for Phase 1 research into adapting military missile detection technologies to commercial aviation.

The second phase of the Counter-Man Portable Air Defense Systems (Counter-MANPADS) program will last 18 months, after which DHS will make its recommendations to Congress.

"We set a very aggressive timetable for this program, and these teams rose to meet that challenge," said Charles McQueary, under secretary for science and technology at DHS, in a statement.

Both companies are adapting infrared countermeasure systems they developed for the military. Their teams include commercial carriers in order to ensure compatibility with their systems. BAE of Rockville, Md., is working with American Airlines; Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman's team includes Northwest Airlines.

"We have put together the right team?to produce a state-of-the-art IR missile protection system that leverages our military technology and fits seamlessly into the commercial airline industry," said Don Donovan, president of BAE's electronic warfare/electronic protection business.

With 2003 prime federal IT revenues of $4.9 billion, Northrop Grumman ranked No. 2 on Washington Technology's 2004 Top 100 list, which measures federal contracting revenue. BAE ranked No. 12, with prime IT revenues of $889 million.

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