ICx to develop battlefield biodetection device

Published 26 February 2008

ICx will use the research and development capabilities of Mesosystems Technologies in New Mexico, a company it had acquired in 2005, to develop a biodetection system to be used on the battlefield; new device will be made for continuous air monitoring in outdoor settings

Arlington, Virginia-based ICx Technologies has won a $2.3 million Department of Defense contract to develop a biothreat detection device for use on the battlefield. Most of the research and development will take place at Mesosystems Technologies in Albuquerque, said CEO Charles Call at a news conference on 22 February to discuss the new contract. ICx acquired Mesosystems in 2005 as a wholly owned subsidiary. “About 80 percent of the work will be done here in New Mexico,” Call said. “It’s a $2.3 million contract with some options that could allow us to go up to $10 million as work progresses.”

ICx, which develops advanced sensor technologies for homeland security, force protection and commercial applications, already markets sensor devices made by Mesosystems for indoor detection of airborne biological threats. Those products include a continuously operating sensor called the AirSentinel, as well as two handheld devices for first responders. Under the new contract, Mesosystems will develop the AirSentinel into a sensor for outdoor use on the battlefield, said Ezra Merrill, vice president of sales and marketing. “The AirSentinel is our flagship product,” Merrill said. “It’s already being used at the Pentagon and other places. The new device will be made for continuous air monitoring in outdoor settings.”

Call said a new defense program calls for purchase of about 10,000 tactical detection systems for outdoor use over the next few years. “This defense contract will allow us to do development work in advance of those procurements and help us win a significant part of the defense purchases,” Call said. U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico), toured Mesosystems’ facilities in Albuquerque prior to the news conference and spoke about the need for effective bio-threat sensors for national security. “This is a very dangerous threat to America,” Wilson said. “That’s why developing new technology such as the products made by ICx is so important. We can protect our nation by detecting threats before they make people sick.”

ICx Technologies (NASDAQ: ICXT) employs more than 600 people, including nearly three dozen in Albuquerque.