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U.S. Department of Homeland Security Selects Teams for Final Prototype Phase of Anti-Missile Devices to Protect Commercial Aircraft

For Immediate Release
Press Office
Contact: Donald Tighe, 202-282-8010  
August 25, 2004

Fact Sheet:  U.S. Department of Homeland Security Programs Countering Missile Threats to Commercial Aircraft

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology directorate today announced that teams led by BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman have been selected for agreement negotiations to begin Phase II of the Counter Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) System Development and Demonstration Program. Each team will build and test prototypes to determine whether a viable technology exists that could be deployed to address the potential threat that shoulder-fired missiles pose to U.S. commercial aircraft. Under the agreements, each team will receive approximately $45 million over 18 months.

“We have been impressed with the progress made by these teams over the past six months,” said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. “Taking aggressive action to understand how technology can address this potential threat is a high priority for us, and today we take the next significant step in developing systems that could protect commercial aircraft from enemies that would do us harm.”

During Phase I, which lasted from January through July of this year, selected contractors developed plans to adapt military-use missile detection and countermeasure technologies for commercial aircraft use. Over the next 18 months, the selected teams will each continue with development, demonstration, and testing of Counter-MANPADS devices on commercial aircraft, and complete engineering, manufacturing, installation, and operations and support planning documents. Third parties will be brought in to thoroughly test and validate the individual design approaches. The selected contractors each bring operational experience to this important effort through their partnerships with major air carriers.

In November 2003, 24 candidates submitted White Papers in response to a solicitation issued the first week of October 2003. Of that group, five contractors were invited to submit full proposals. Three contractor teams, led by BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and United Airlines, were awarded agreements in January 2004 for the six-month Phase I and were funded at $2 million per team. After Phase I, based on the results of their work and on their proposals for Phase II, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman have been selected for Phase II by a panel of government representatives including officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Transportation, and Justice. Phase II selections were based on four categories: Technical Design, Management, Phase I Performance, and Phase II Cost Proposal.

“We set a very aggressive timetable for this program, and these teams rose to meet that challenge,” said Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “We believe that as a result of their efforts and the commitment of the Administration with both financial and operational support, the President and the Congress will have the necessary information to move forward protecting the American people from this potential threat.”

The goal of the Counter-MANPADS System Program Office is to manage Homeland Security’s development and demonstration efforts for commercial air protection in liaison with other federal agencies and with the private sector, helping to leverage military and other existing technologies for increased security at home.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology division serves as the primary research and development arm of the Department, utilizing our nation’s scientific and technological resources to provide federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.