NAVY Awards Small Business with $6M Contract

Original Article: Homeland Security Today

Astrophysics, Inc. has expanded its US footprint with the announcement that the United States Navy has awarded the company a $6 million contract to help protect entry control points deployed at seaports around the world.

Based in Southern California, Astrophysics, Inc. designs and manufactures X-ray security systems that help operators detect and identify weapons and explosives in civil and military markets worldwide. The company builds all its products domestically in Southern California.

“Most of our products are made in the USA, with close to 90 percent of content made in US. Most of the supplies and materials are procured locally in California,” Homeland Security Today was told by Mark Laustra, vice president, sales & government programs, The Americas, at Astrophysics, Inc.

“I have been with the company close to a year and a half now,” Laustra continued. “I have been brought in to develop their US business because 90 percent of our products are exported. I am trying to change that. We want more of a US presence.”

Started in 2002 by Francois Zayek, an imaging scientist with 30 years of experience in medical and security fields, Astrophysics has become the fastest growing company in the critical infrastructure, transportation, and ports and borders markets.

Laustra indicated the company has a significant edge over its competitors because of its engineering, nimbleness, and ability to customize products to their clients’ specific needs. “Many of our competitors got very large after 9/11,” Laustra said. “We are a bit more nimble because of our size.”

Moreover, since Astrophysics buys primarily from US vendors and manufactures in the US at their headquarters in California, the company is able to keep costs down.

“Price is the number one factor nowadays,” Laustra said. “Because we are a small business and our materials are sourced locally here in California, we can keep our costs way down. Our overhead is very low.”

The new contract with the US Navy marks a significant step towards greater US presence. As part of their effort to build the US business, the company has participated in several Requests for Proposal, securing two from the Navy, one for their mailroom and one for their warships.

Astrophysics was selected from a large field of competitors to fulfill the Navy XRBS program’s five-year contract to supply and deploy ruggedized X-ray inspection systems for dockside screening. The X-ray systems had to be custom-made to meet the unique environment of a warship.

“These x-ray machines are custom-made to be salt-water proof to ensure no leakage,” Laustra said. “In addition, it has to be self-contained with air conditioning and heat because of the places these warships go to. It is a very customized product.”

Since Astrophysics systems are engineered and manufactured in the US, the company is able to customize and ship its advanced X-ray solutions quickly, making Astrophysics an ideal option for the US Navy as well as the Transportation Security Administration and others.

“Astrophysics is known around the world for market-leading screening solutions,” said François Zayek, CEO of Astrophysics, in a statement. “We have a long history of helping protect the men and women that protect our great nation and we are pleased to announce this latest contract.”

Soon after announcing the contract with the US Navy, Astrophysics revealed the company has also been awarded a five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP can use this contract, with a ceiling of $23.1 million, to provide Astrophysics’ equipment around the world. The contract allows purchasing of small, medium and large X-ray systems, their associated peripherals, training, and warranties in support of CBP’s Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) program.

The company’s X-ray technology is designed to display up to six colors that operators can use to identify contraband. Laustra indicates that most X-ray system providers use a three color palette, which Astrophysics also offers. However, the company also provides the option of a six color palette, which gives the operator more information about what is inside the bag.

“In this day of budget cuts and reduced government spending, Astrophysics’ solutions represent both the best value and cutting-edge technology. In addition, our systems are manufactured in the US, providing the ideal combination of advantages for today’s security needs,” Zayek said in a statement.

“Our systems are known the world over for their speed, reliability and accuracy and we are honored to have been chosen as a solution to help protect our borders and support the CBP professionals who keep our country safe from those who would do us harm.”

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