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TSA commits $44 million for L-3 AIT scanners

The Transportation Security Administration will buy hundreds more Advanced Imaging Technology scanners under an existing contract with L-3 Communications, said TSA Administrator John Pistole on Sept. 7.

Pistole said the agency would spend approximately $44.8 million to buy 300 more millimeter AIT machines for deployment to airports nationwide. The new machines will be deployed with TSA’s new automated target recognition software, the agency said, which is designed to eliminate passenger-specific images in favor of generic alerts posted on a graphic representation.

“Advanced imaging technology is one of the best layers of security we have to address the threats of today and tomorrow,” said Pistole. “We remain committed to deploying this integral counterterrorism tool in order to ensure the highest level of security for the traveling public.”

TSA said it plans to begin deploying the additional units in the coming months, and will make airport announcements once a deployment schedule is finalized. Many factors are taken into consideration before AIT units are deployed including airport readiness and checkpoint infrastructure, it said.

Currently, there are nearly 500 AIT units at 78 airports nationwide, according to TSA. The purchase of the additional 300 millimeter wave units includes an option to purchase an additional 200 units. President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget included the purchase of 500 units, and the President’s fiscal 2012 budget requests funding for an additional 275 units, said TSA.

The agency began installing the new automated target recognition software on millimeter wave imaging technology machines last July after increasing complaints from the public about the older technology’s imaging capabilities.

The additional millimeter wave units will be deployed with the new software installed, and all millimeter wave units currently in use are in the process of being upgraded with the new software, said TSA.

AIT is designed to enhance security by safely screening passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats—including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing.

Imaging technology screening is safe for all travelers, and the technology meets all known national and international health and safety standards, it said. “In fact, the energy emitted by millimeter wave technology is 1000 times less than the international limits and guidelines,” it said.


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