It will take nearly two decades to complete deployments of next-generation checkpoint baggage scanners under the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2024 funding request for the systems, which so far have been installed at 40 percent of airport security lanes nationwide, the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said this week.

TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, is requesting $70 million for checkpoint computed tomography (CT) systems in the FY ’24 budget, a funding rate that means the systems would be fully deployed in 2042, David Pekoske told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee on Tuesday. Congress appropriated about $105 million for the checkpoint CT systems in both FY ’22 and FY ’23, levels that would allow for all the scanners needed to be installed by 2036, he told the panel.

The checkpoint CT systems, formally called checkpoint property screening system (CPSS) by TSA, are the agency’s top technology priority but funding for them has slowed to a trickle the past two years just as the agency and its vendors have put themselves into a position to ramp up production and installation. In addition to the scanners, the CPSS effort includes the baggage handling systems that passengers empty their personal items on before they are screened and then retrieve them from after the scanning process.

The CPSS full-size, which includes large baggage handling systems called automated screening lanes, allow five passengers to divest their belongings at a time, helping speed processing at the checkpoint, Pekoske said.

Last year, Pekoske said that the $100 million or so funding levels would get full CPSS deployment in 2036. He told Congress then that if funding were raised to between $300 and $350 million annually, the CPSS deployments would be completed within five years. On Tuesday, he said it will take $350 to $380 million annually to accelerate the deployments by “many, many years.”

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), chairman of the Homeland Security panel, said in his opening remarks that the agency’s FY ’24 request “woefully underfunds investment in new more capable technology in airport checkpoints.” He highlighted the capabilities of the checkpoint CT systems, which produce 3-D images to give operators a better view of a bag’s contents and increase the ability to detect threats while speeding throughput.

The CPSS allow passengers to leave their laptops, personal electronic devices, and bottled liquids and gels in their carry-on bags, unlike the legacy Advanced Technology X-ray systems that require travelers to separate these items for screening.

So far, TSA has purchased checkpoint CT systems from two contractors, Smiths Detection and Analogic. The agency acquired 300 machines from Smiths under an earlier detection standard that preceded the CPSS requirement. The agency has purchased hundreds of CT systems from Analogic under the CPSS effort.

In addition to Smiths and Analogic, TSA has also added Integrated Defense and Security Solutions (IDSS) and the Dutch company Scarabee to its qualified vendor list for CPSS procurements. IDSS has a checkpoint CT offering, whereas Scarabee provides the baggage handling systems that integrated with the scanners. Leidos [LDOS] is also attempting to get its checkpoint CT scanner added to the vendor list.

“So, you know, we’re in a position where we know what we want, we’ve tested it, we’ve had a personal experience with it,” Pekoske said. “We have contract vehicles in place and we have an implementation plan.”