Block MEMS has secured a contract for Phase III of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) programme to detect explosives, drugs and other threats.

Under Phase III of the IARPA Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures (SILMARILS) programme, Block MEMS will detect and trace bulk quantities of drugs such as fentanyl, explosives, chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and toxic chemicals.

With the latest $5.5m Phase III award, the total contract value of the effort now stands at $15.1m.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory is executing the contract at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Block MEMS Technology vice-president and principal investigator Dr Anish Goyal said: “We are very pleased to receive the third phase award of the SILMARILS programme based on successful achievements in the prior programme phases, which included testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy 500.

“The ability to detect most chemicals, including CWAs, explosives, and pharmaceutical based agents at these standoff distances is addressing a strong need within the Intelligence Community, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security.”

The Phase III effort is aimed at developing stand-off chemical detection capabilities with automated real-time processing.

These capabilities are suitable for long-range standoff for distances up to 30m, moving targets to address the need to detect trace chemicals while objects are moving, and close-range that address the need for a compact system.

Block MEMS president Al Weggeman said: “This is a great opportunity to partner with IARPA and AFRL in the creation of much needed technologies that address stand-off chemical and gas detection capabilities and CONOPs.

“We are resolved to provide protective capabilities to first responders, military, and the public in general.”

Block MEMS secured a Phase II award of the IARPA programme for the standoff detection of explosives and toxic chemical threats in January 2018.