Northrop Grumman [NOC] continues to pursue a range of opportunities in the domestic and international homeland security space but is particularly keen on existing and emerging opportunities in several key areas including biological security, border security, information sharing and infrastructure protection, according to the company’s top executive focusing on homeland security.

In all of these areas Northrop Grumman would mainly bring its systems integration expertise to bear, says Jerry Buckwalter, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of Homeland Security. “We provide program management capabilities…to deliver large programs.” Buckwalter spoke at an open house hosted by Northrop Grumman in Northern Virginia this month to showcase its various homeland security solutions for customers.

In the bio-security market, Northrop Grumman already plays a key role providing the Bio-hazard Detection System (BDS) at mail screening operations for the U.S. Postal Service and has developed a collection system fro the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the BioWatch program. A key aspect of the BDS is the national monitoring center the company developed to manage the network of sensor systems. The BDS samples for anthrax.

Under BioWatch, DHS has initiated a competitive program for the next-generation of sensors and systems called Gen-3. That program will include system that continuously acquire air samples from the environment and then automatically analyze the sample for a number of harmful pathogens and then provides alerts to the proper authorities.

Current BioWatch systems deployed in about 30 major cities and urban areas require daily, manual retrieval of samples for analysis by local laboratories, a process that is labor intensive and slow to produce a result if a harmful pathogen has been released.

Northrop Grumman is teamed with the live sciences firm Luminex [LMNX] on its Gen-3 offering called the Autonomous Pathogen Detection System. The company’s solution is based on technology originally developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and involves the use of polymerase chain reaction techniques. The company is touting its experience on the BDS program, which was established following the anthrax attacks in late 2001, in the Gen-3 competition.

Nuke Detection

In the larger weapons of mass destruction (WMD) space, Northrop Grumman is also coordinating its capabilities to go after opportunities in the nuclear detection area, Buckwalter says. The company recently hired Vayl Oxford, the former director of the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, to help bring a “laser like” focus to the company’s nuclear detection efforts, he says. Buckwalter says there are plenty of opportunities, particularly as the key new development programs for improved nuclear detection continue to struggle. Still, the company will take a conservative approach to the worldwide opportunities for WMD solutions, he says.

In the U.S., the major border security project is the Secure Border Initiative, which is being managed by Boeing [BA] for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). There are still plenty of opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere for border security solutions, Buckwalter says.

Northrop Grumman currently has a multi-year contract with CBP called Land Ports of Entry, where the company is integrating video cameras and license plate reader technology to improve situational awareness at crossing points between the U.S. and Mexico. The company also provides integrated maritime surveillance solutions for New York Harbor, Boston Harbor, Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va.

The company’s maritime domain awareness solutions for the U.S. localities served as precursor systems for the harbor and coastal surveillance systems it has developed and deployed for Australia and Taiwan in the past few years. For Australia’s Maritime Information System (AMIS), Northrop Grumman is integrating various data sets such as Automated Identification Systems onboard ships, crew and cargo manifests and advanced notice of arrival information for vessels. The Australian customers can access the information via Web clients.

Northrop Grumman is working to expand the range of datasets that Australia wants for AMIS. Software the company has developed integrates the sensor data to improve situational awareness for AMIS.

In the area of information assurance, Northrop Grumman plans to work with state and local fusion centers and other command and control operations as well as national authorities, leveraging core expertise it has gained serving customers in the intelligence and defense communities for years, Buckwalter says.

The market for critical infrastructure protection and security is still emerging and includes solutions in the cyber security and physical security areas, Buckwalter says. Northrop Grumman already has the credentials in the cyber security space from its work in the intelligence arena but needs to “carefully craft” solutions for the civil sector, he says.

For physical security, the company plans to leverage work it has been doing for the Defense Department, such as the Integrated Base Defense Security System (IBDSS) it developed to protect fixed, mobile and temporary assets. This involves perimeter security, such as radars and cameras and other sensors, access control systems, databases, and command and control systems. Northrop Grumman has modified its command and control system for IBDSS, called the Enhanced Tactical Automated Security System, for civil and private sector applications under the Advanced Security and Integrated Systems Technology (ASIST) name. ASIST would provide high-end physical security integration.