Testing to Begin on Latest Biowatch Units
Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman announced yesterday it would begin testing the latest generation of units developed to detect airborne biological threats (see GSN, Oct. 12).
The Next Gen Automated Detection System is the third generation in the federal Biowatch system, which has deployed detectors in more than 30 U.S. cities. Air samples are gathered daily from the instruments and tested for the presence of biological warfare materials such as anthrax and smallpox. The devices run constantly and are intended to act as an early warning system should a biological attack occur
Northrop received $8.4 million in initial Homeland Security Department funding to conduct testing on 12 third-generation units. The three-year contract could ultimately be worth $37 million. The systems are to be placed in indoor and outdoor areas in a large city for a number of months to assess whether their line is ready to be put into use.
This “technology has the potential to significantly improve the nation’s ability to quickly detect and respond to a bioterrorism event,” Northrop Grumman CBRNE defense programs chief Dave Tilles said in a press release. “This effort builds on the company’s work to support our customers as they enhance the country’s defenses against potentially catastrophic threats such as bioterrorism” (Northrop Grumman release, Nov. 18).