Award of a contract or contracts for the second round of purchases of advanced airport checkpoint baggage scanning machines is expected in the fourth quarter of the government’s fiscal year 2020, with deployments expected to begin during the first quarter of 2021, a Transportation Security Agency official said on Thursday.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) for the computed technology (CT)-based checkpoint scanners is expected to be issued in the first quarter of FY ’20, Paul Burrowes, portfolio manager for the Checkpoint Property Screening System effort, said at the agency’s Industry Day in Washington, D.C.

The federal government’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30.

The forthcoming RFP will be for what TSA is calling the “mid-size” procurement of checkpoint CT systems. Mid-size refers to the requirement that vendors will bid their machines along with an automated-tray divert system on the backend for bags that trigger an alarm.

The automated divert system is part of an Automated Screening Lane (ASL), which includes multiple divestment stations for travelers on the front end, mechanized rollers for easier ingress into the scanner and egress out of the machine, an automated bin return system, and the ability to connect to the TSA information network.

The CT mid-size systems will also have to meet a specific detection standard and have the ability to connect to the TSA network, although actual hookup to the network won’t be required at that time, Burrowes said.

A year after a CT mid-size award, TSA plans to award a contract or contracts in the fourth quarter of FY ’21 for the CT “full-size,” which includes the CT system along with the ASL.

TSA on March 28 awarded Smiths Detection, which is part of Britain’s Smiths Group, a $96.8 million contract for the first 300 CT systems. The agency hoped that it would begin installing the systems at select U.S. airports this summer, but a protest by L3 Technologies [LLL] in April, followed by another L3 protest in May, means resolution isn’t expected until late August.

Even if the Government Accountability Office denies the protests, it’s unlikely TSA will begin installing a significant number of systems until early 2020 because the agency will conduct some additional testing on the Smiths machines this fall ahead of the holiday season when TSA and its airport and airline stakeholders won’t want to risk major disruptions to travelers by introducing new technology at the checkpoint.

Burrowes told Defense Daily after his presentation that it hasn’t been determined yet if TSA will award one or more contracts for the CT mid-size. Industry officials expect at least two awards, with one going to Smiths given that they won the initial contract, to maintain competition for the systems.

Smiths and Rapiscan Systems, a division of OSI Systems [OSIS], supply the current Advanced Technology X-ray checkpoint baggage scanners.

The CT systems will allow travelers to leave their electronic devices in their bags and, eventually, TSA expects their liquids as well. The systems provide operators with a three-dimensional image that can be virtually rotated on the user display screen, providing an enhanced image of a bag’s contents. The machines also have the capability to automatically detect explosives and other threats, which will reduce manual operations.

Analogic and Integrated Defense & Security Solutions are also vying for CT checkpoint contracts.