German gun maker wins TSA contract to arm airline pilots

The Transportation Security Administration has selected the German firearms manufacturer Heckler & Koch to supply the .40-caliber semiautomatic handguns the agency will use to train and arm commercial airline pilots.

A company spokesman confirmed the contract award Friday. TSA notified bidders by fax late Thursday. TSA officials were unable to comment as of Friday afternoon.

Although losing bidders may still file a protest, the award caps a procurement effort that proved troublesome for TSA, which ran afoul of leading handgun manufacturers in its attempt to buy handguns for its next class of pilots, scheduled to begin Sunday.

CongressDaily reported Wednesday that gun makers who expected "full and open competition" complained that TSA appeared to bow to congressional and other outside pressures at different stages of the process by favoring certain handgun manufacturers over others. Protests by the Italian firm Beretta and other companies prompted TSA on June 12 to open the competition industry-wide and push back various deadlines and delivery dates.

TSA spokesman Robert Johnson adamantly denied in an interview earlier this week that the procurement process contributed to a delay in the summer training classes. The agency has been under pressure from Congress to accelerate the arming of commercial pilots under the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act enacted last November.

TSA's Federal Flight Deck Officers program allows pilots to volunteer for firearms training and become certified law enforcement officers, authorized to use a handgun to defend their cockpits from hostile intruders.

Potential bidders for the gun contract had been told by TSA that the agency wanted to buy as many as 9,600 handguns through fiscal 2006. The H&K spokesman said the model chosen was the company's USP Compact .40-LEM firearm, which are made in Oberndorf, Germany, and shipped to the U.S. distribution center in Sterling, Va.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.