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Thursday, Jul 7, 2022

Lining Up for Homeland Bounty


Staff Reporter

Hundreds of L.A.-area firms are lining up to get a piece of President Bush’s $38 billion request for homeland security.

To no surprise, the major defense firms would get much of the action. Northrop Grumman Corp., Computer Sciences Corp. and local units of Boeing Co. already have established business units to develop homeland security initiatives. But many smaller, private firms developing niche products likely will see a boost as well.

So far, Congress has not appropriated the $38 billion request, but politicians and defense industry sources expect that most of the funds will be realized. Information technology, satellite-making, anti-bioterrorism and security operations are among programs expected to get funding and many L.A.-area companies are involved in those fields.

Using revenues allocated prior to Bush’s budget request double the pre-Sept. 11 budget some of the work already is underway.

“From the contracts I’ve seen, right now they are initiating the beginnings of product development and streams of research,” said Jon Goodman, executive director of the EC2 Incubator Project, a business research organization at USC. “(The contracts) will inevitably get bigger because the folks in Los Angeles are leaders in their areas.”

Information technology is expected to get the biggest boost, with Northrop and Computer Sciences leading the pack. Northrop recently established homeland security offices nationwide while Computer Sciences created a similar unit in Falls Church, Va. last December.

Among the products to be developed are advanced intelligence systems used to intercept enemy Internet, wireless and landline messages, data recovery, health network alerts and software packages for 911 emergency response systems.

Computer Sciences, for example, has a staff of 40 “ethical hackers” employees who attempt to break into computer programs to test their vulnerability. “The threat of cyber terrorism is real,” said Ben Gianni, Computer Sciences vice president in charge of homeland security.

With 25 percent of the company’s $11.5 billion in annual revenues already coming from the Department of Defense and other government agencies, company officials anticipate a healthy share of the funding.

Northrop estimated that its programs could account for $7 billion of the $38 billion request, although Tom Davis, a senior analyst for the company’s homeland security units noted, “there will be a lot of people competing for that pot.”

Phantom Works

Boeing, which established a Phantom Works unit to develop homeland security initiatives at its multi-billion satellite making operation in El Segundo, is involved in a massive network of information gathering, analysis and delivery to all aspects of an emergency response.

“The complexity of this is unprecedented,” said Randy Harrison, spokesman for Boeing’s homeland security operation. “We’re talking about (information to) everything from the president of the United States, troops in Afghanistan and border patrols to firefighters and police on the streets. It’s getting (non-classified personnel) the relevant information without letting them know we got the information.”

Many other area companies have or are close to introducing products that can be applied to homeland security:

& lt; In late December, Parsons Corp. of Pasadena was awarded a multi-year contract that could total $1.2 billion over 10 years to upgrade air-traffic control facilities in 10 major locations, including Los Angeles, for the Federal Aviation Administration. The work will require as many as 1,500 engineers and support staff to find new sites, construct new facilities and install equipment.

& lt; FAA officials have mandated that all commercial airlines and plane makers replace their cockpit doors with bulletproof versions within 18 months. In response, Rancho Dominguez-based Telair International Inc. has introduced a new line of ballistic-tested panels to be fitted inside the doors.

Company officials said they expect to sell more than 5,000 Kevlar fiber-based panels this year, from which they would receive 20 to 30 percent of the cost of each doors, which are as much as $50,000 each. Shortly after Sept. 11, Congress appropriated $500 million to strengthen security on planes.

Telair, a subsidiary of Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based Teleflex Inc., used the technology from the bomb-proof airplane baggage containers that company put on the market Feb. 8. Officials expect to sell as many as 5,000 of the $18,000 to $25,000 containers this year.

& lt; Motorola Sciences of Pasadena is marketing the eSensor Detection Reader, which can simultaneously detect 36 biochemical (anthrax, small pox) and neurological agents (nerve gas) in a half hour to two hours by reading DNA sequences from blood and urine samples injected in chips.

They were launched last June for use in medical and research labs. But in the wake of the terrorist attacks, Motorola Sciences will unveil a new model the size of a TV remote control. Although it will be able to hold only one chip, the reader will be portable and marketed to military in combat as well as medical personnel stateside.

& lt; Using $46 million in venture capital, Pasadena-based Cyrano Sciences Inc. created the Cyranose 320, a handheld “artificial nose” device originally designed to help users, such as food companies, detect bad ingredients. The $8,000 device, the only product the company sells, uses a sensor ray to detect vapors that the device has been programmed to recognize.

But now, company officials said they plan to market the Cyranose 320 to military, homeland defense and first-response organizations dealing with biochemical warefare.

“We’ve done a far amount of research in the last two years and have demonstrated an ability to identify certain growing disease-causing bacteria,” said Marla Alders, vice president of business development for Cyrano. “There’s no reason to believe we couldn’t translate this ability into the sensing of growing anthrax bacteria. This whole area of military and homeland defense is an important new area for our company.”

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