July 30, 1999
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has been awarded a series of contracts from the U.S. Customs Services for 29 Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS II). VACIS II is a gamma-ray imaging system used to non-intrusively inspect freight contained on and in trucks, cargo containers, and passenger vehicles.
The contracts are valued at $25 million, and the work will be performed over a 19-month period. SAIC's Safety and Security Instruments Operation (SSIO), located in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego, Calif., will manufacture and install the 29 VACIS IIs at ports of entry at Canadian and Mexican land borders and seaport and container terminals throughout the United States.
"Under these contracts, SAIC's proven VACIS II technology will be used to help the Customs Service as it reduces the smuggling of contraband across international borders," said Jim Winso, SAIC's SSIO operations manager.
The VACIS technology was initially developed to inspect stationary thick steel-walled tanker trucks for illegal drugs. VACIS' early success has expanded its use to a wider range of vehicles and cargo containers. VACIS II allows operators to view the gamma-ray images on a video monitor to quickly and efficiently identify voids, false walls or ceilings, and other secret compartments typically associated with the transportation of drugs, explosives and weapons. Operators searching for stolen or smuggled goods can use the images to determine whether the cargo is consistent with the declared manifest.
Another version of the VACIS, called the Stolen Automobile Recovery System (STARS), has been used at the Port of Miami to inspect sealed cargo containers for stolen automobiles destined for Central and South America. The insurance industry estimates that the illegal shipping of stolen automobiles abroad represents a $200 million annual loss for insurance companies.
The Mobile VACIS is used for quick response to security threats and contraband detection in cargo. In addition, SAIC is developing a VACIS for railcar inspection.
The VACIS technology has received worldwide recognition for its efficacy and innovation. In 1998, SAIC's VACIS won an award in the Transportation category of the Computerworld/Smithsonian Awards Program (CWSA).