The Transportation Security Administration on Thursday evening awarded Smiths Detection a $96.8 million contract to provide 300 new scanning systems to screen carry-on bags at airport checkpoints.

The deployment of the computed tomography (CT)-based systems will increase security by providing operators with three-dimensional images of a bag’s contents, which should also speed processing of travelers.

“Smiths Detection, Inc., offered the best value for TSA in this procurement, and has been chosen to support the most consequential technology deployment to checkpoints in the recent history of the agency,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “These state-of-the-art 3-D scanners will enable our screening officers to detect explosives and other threats to commercial aviation with unprecedented precision.”

Smiths Detection’s HI-SCAN 6040 CTiX checkpoint scanner for carry-on bags. Photo: Smiths Detection

The CT technology has been used by TSA for nearly two decades to automatically screen checked bags for explosives and the technology, which has been optimized for checkpoint use, is expected to offer the same benefits for passenger screening. TSA has been evaluating the CT technology at a number of airports and in some of the instances travelers don’t have to remove their electronic devices from their bags.

Eventually, the CT technology may allow travelers to leave their liquids inside their bags.

Deployments of the Smiths’ systems will begin this summer and be completed in 2020. Pekoske has previously said that he believes the 2,400 checkpoint lanes at U.S. airports could be equipped with CT systems eventually.

The CT systems will replace Advanced Technology X-Ray systems that have been supplied by Smiths and OSI Systems’ [OSIS] Rapiscan Systems division.

TSA is seeking additional funding in fiscal year 2020 to buy more CT systems.

Also competing for the CT contract were Analogic, Integrated Defense & Security Solutions, and L3 Technologies [LLL]. Smiths Detection is part of Britain’s Smiths Group.