2 defense giants to co-bid on job

Northrop Grumman, Raytheon seek deal for baggage screening

April 06, 2002|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. said yesterday that they will team up to bid on a multibillion-dollar contract to install baggage screening devices in all of the nation's airports by the end of the year - and that might mean more work for Northrop's Linthicum-based Electronics Systems sector.

The contract is potentially worth $3 billion to $4 billion during the next five years, the companies said. They will submit a proposal by Tuesday, and they expect a decision by the end of the month.

Legislation enacted last year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks required that the nation's 438 commercial airports screen 100 percent of all checked baggage by the end of this year.

Only one airport - Salt Lake City International Airport - has 100 percent screening, because that city held the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

"Because this is such an important national issue, we decided the best team approach would be Raytheon and Northrop Grumman," said Kent Kresa, Northrop's chairman and chief executive.

Raytheon has been a contractor on airport security equipment since 1996 and has worked with Northrop Grumman to install 185 explosive-detection systems and 630 explosive trace detection equipment at more than 50 airports nationwide.

An explosive detection system uses imaging technology to scan through luggage; trace detection equipment is used to swab baggage exteriors in search of traces of explosives.

Raytheon expects to deploy between 1,850 and 2,200 explosive-detection systems and more than 5,000 explosive trace detection systems. Hugo Poza, head of Raytheon's homeland security efforts, said yesterday that a combination of the systems will be deployed in airports across the country to achieve the 100 percent baggage screening requirement.

Northrop's Electronics Systems sector will handle much of the company's share of the work, said Suzanne Jenniches, the Northrop division's vice president of communications systems. Electronics Systems will be involved in program and subcontracting management.

The government has committed to hiring between 30,000 and 40,000 baggage screeners, and Northrop will be involved in training these government workers in using the detection equipment, she said.

Jenniches declined to say how many Northrop employees will work on the contract.

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