Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last Thursday evening said it selected three companies—Leidos [LDOS], OSI Systems’ [OSIS] Rapiscan Systems division, and Smiths Detection—to compete for up to $480 million in orders to supply new drive-through imaging systems that can safely scan trucks for contraband and potential threat items without a driver having to leave the vehicle.
Under the 10-year award, all three companies are initially providing one Multi-Energy Portal (MEP) system to CBP. Smiths Detection is part of Britain’s Smiths Group.
The MEP non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems feature a low-energy scanning capability to safely image the cab of a truck or tractor-trailer so that the occupants can remain inside the vehicle while the system provides an image for an operator to detect potential contraband and then automatically switch to a high-energy imaging technology to enable a robust screening of the cargo conveyance for illegal items.
The MEP systems are a key ingredient in CBP’s plans to dramatically increase the amount of cargo being scanned that enters the U.S. at land ports of entry. A year ago, CBP was scanning about 15 percent of commercial vehicles entering the U.S. at land ports of entry and 1 percent of passenger vehicles.
In the next few years, the agency is hoping to increase those numbers to 72 percent and 40 percent, respectively, as it deploys additional drive-through NII systems. CBP is lining up a competition for low-energy portal systems that would safely scan cars and other people-occupied vehicles as they enter the U.S. at land ports of entry.
The NII system Leidos is providing CBP is the company’s VACIS IP6500 MEP, which is integrated with Viken Detection‘s OSPREY-EVX low-energy backscatter imaging technology and, as an option, Viken’s OSPREY-UVX under vehicle X-Ray imaging system.
The inclusion of Viken on the Leidos team is an important milestone for the small detection technology company, which has taken business away from OSI Systems in the handheld imaging market, including for CBP.
Leidos previously installed two VACIS IP6500s at a land port of entry in Brownsville, Texas, as a pilot project for cargo scanning in pre-primary inspection lanes and is the only manufacturer “to do so in a fully integrated environment with a state-of-the-art command and control center that has been referred to as the model of the future,” a Leidos spokeswoman told Defense Daily. She added that the IP6500 systems are similar to the more than 40 Mobile VACIS M6500s the company has sold and deployed for CBP in the past 18 months.
For the one system that CBP is purchasing initially, Leidos will integrate, deploy and train CBP operators on how to use the IP6500 with the low-energy backscatter and high-energy transmission system at a port along the southern border, she said.
CBP last summer awarded Leidos, Rapiscan and Smiths Detection a multiple-award contract to compete to provide the agency with NII systems for scanning rail cars entering the U.S. Under that five-year, $379 million contract, all three companies provided CBP with four of their respective systems for deployments on the northern and southern borders of the U.S.
Congress in the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill included a provision directing the Department of Homeland Security to provide it with a plan for how it will achieve 100 percent scanning of all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail entering the U.S. at land-ports of entry and rail-border crossings using large scale NII technology. That plan is due this summer.