Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday awarded Systems Engineering Services, LLC (SES), a potential $259.6 million for nine multirole enforcement aircraft land interdiction (MEA LI) aircraft, which will complement the agency’s fleet of 29 MEA aircraft.

The initial award to SES, based in Huntsville, Ala., is for $28.2 million and covers the first aircraft, which the award notice says is a prototype. The contract contains four one-year ordering periods.

The legacy MEA is supplied by Sierra Nevada Corp. and is based on the fixed-wing twin-turboprop King Air B300 airframe, which is being provided to CBP under a separate contract with Textron [TXT]. SES will integrate various sensors and mission equipment on the B300 aircraft to create the MEA LI.

Use of the same airframe will allow CBP to maintain standardization of its MEA fleet.

The MEA is used for maritime and land interdiction, surveillance missions, and cargo and personnel transport. It is equipped with electro-optic and infrared sensors, law enforcement technical packages, Ku-band and Iridium satellite downlink capabilities to allow for communication by voice and data anywhere in its operating area in near real-time, and the Minotaur Mission Package, which links sensors, cameras, radar and communications for a more automated system to identify and track suspicious activity in the maritime, air and land domains.

The sensor systems aboard the aircraft allow for stand-off detection and tracking of targets of interest to avoid counter-detection.