Materials Engineering and Technical Support Services has received a $9.8 million contract for research on countermeasures against chemical and biological weapons and hazards.
The contract, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, provides for policy and technology analysis, laboratory work, field studies and modeling to better understand the impact of various chemical and biological agents on life and the environment. The idea is to give researchers more information on how best to counter individual agents and diseases released either in attacks or by accident.
The studies will take place in Westerville, Ohio, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and are due to be completed by November 2024. Air Force fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funding will be obligated to the company with the initial task order.
A chemical or biological weapon consists of a toxic agent and some form of delivery device. In military use, they are typically delivered by systems based on traditional military weaponry like artillery, air-dropped bombs, missiles and aerosol sprayers.
In unconventional attacks, such as terrorism or assassination, delivery systems can take many forms. In one example, Sarin nerve gas released on the Tokyo subway by a doomsday cult in 1995 was released by puncturing plastic containers, and weaponized anthrax spores were delivered by mail to several locations shortly after the Sep. 11 attacks.
Other incidents include the assassination of a Russian dissident with radioactive polonium and the release of a nerve agent targeting a defected Russian spy in London earlier this year.
Many chemical and biological agents can leave residue behind in the environment that can continue to injure or kill exposed people for extended periods without proper decontamination of the affected area. Some forms of nerve gas, such as VX, and spore-based biological weapons like anthrax are specifically designed as an area-denial weapon by poisoning land and facilities until they undergo extensive decontanimation.