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06 January 2004

Firms to Research Anti-Missile Devices For Commercial Aircraft

Homeland Security Dept. announces awarding contracts to three companies

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected three firms that will examine whether military technology can be adapted to protect commercial aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles known as MAN-Portable Air Defense Systems or MANPADS.

In a January 6 news release, DHS announced that teams led by BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Airlines would develop a plan and test prototypes to help officials determine whether existing missile detection and countermeasures technologies can be used to protect commercial aircraft.

Phase I of the project will last an estimated six months and will involve development of a counter-MANPADS plan for civil aviation as well as an assessment of the economic, manufacturing and maintenance feasibility of operating such a system, DHS said. Phase II will include a prototype demonstration, testing and evaluation of the anti-missile plan.

Following is the text of the DHS news release:

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Press Release
January 6, 2004

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SELECTS CONTRACTORS FOR ANTI-MISSILE DEVICES TO PROTECT COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division today announced that teams led by BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Airlines have been selected for agreement negotiations. The team will be expected to develop a plan and test prototypes to help determine whether a viable technology exists that could be deployed to address the potential threat that MAN-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) pose to commercial aircraft.

"The President and the Secretary are taking a very aggressive approach on measures to counter the potential threat of shoulder-fired missiles," said Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary, Science and Technology. "These efforts are part of a larger undertaking by the Administration that includes completing security assessments and implementing reasonable responsive measures at our nation's airports as well as working with our international partners to reduce the number of weapons potentially available to terrorists."

Under the agreement, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Airlines will each receive approximately $2 million for Phase I of the project. In this first phase, which will last approximately six months, these contractors will produce a plan to adapt military missile detection and countermeasure technologies for commercial aircraft use.

BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Airlines were selected from among 24 candidates that submitted White Papers in response to a solicitation issued the first week of October 2003. Of that group, five contractors were invited to submit full proposals. Each of these final candidates gave a four-hour oral presentation to government representatives including officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Transportation, State and Treasury. The selected contractors each bring operational experience to this important effort through their partnerships with major air carriers.

These selections are the next step in DHS' aggressive two-phased systems development and demonstration program for the evaluation of anti-missile devices for commercial aircraft. This initiative is intended to adapt existing technology from military to commercial aviation use, rather than develop new technology. Phase I will also provide an analysis of the economic, manufacturing and maintenance issues necessary to operate counter-MANPADs systems in the civil aviation environment. Phase II will include a prototype demonstration and rigorous test and evaluation process of existing technology.

McQueary added that "the Science and Technology division is proud to support the Department's efforts in this critical area of aviation security through our Counter-MANPADS Special Program Office. We look forward to working with BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and United Airlines to determine if in fact there is a viable and effective technology we could deploy to protect commercial aircraft."

The goal of the Counter-MANPADS Special Program Office is to manage Homeland Security's development and demonstration efforts for commercial air protection in liaison with the private sector. The Office is working closely with the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to provide Homeland Security with advice, assistance and detailees to support the Department's efforts to find commercial applications for military technologies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology division serves as the primary research and development arm of the Department, utilizing our nation's scientific and technological resources to provide federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.

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