Leidos tapped for services as unconventional weapons gain prominance

May 15 (UPI) — Leidos Inc. was awarded a contract for scientific and technical services to support the Cooperative Biological Engagement program.

The contract award from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency was announced Monday by the Defense Department and enables Leidos to support multiple programs under the Cooperative Biological Engagement program.

The contract is valued at more than $33.6 million and does not include unexercised options, said the Pentagon press release.

The Cooperative Biological Engagement program grew out of the Cold War, when the former Soviet Union began work on becoming a biological superpower by transforming viruses and bacteria into weapons of war, according to the Pentagon.

The program, which is partnered with several other U.S. agencies, works to prevent the proliferation of “expertise, materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development of biological weapons.”

Work on the contract will occur in multiple locations around the world, and is expected to be complete in May 2019. If contract options are exercised, the period of performance will be extended to May 2022.

Weaponized biological and chemical weapons have gained international prominence recently, due to images emerging out of the Syrian war showing civilians being exposed to a chemical attack — the United States along with other countries have pointed the finger at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last month, Russia has been blamed for using a nerve agent against a former Kremlin spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had confirmed that the Russian-made Novichok nerve agent was used against the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33.

A Russian court convicted Skripal in 2006 for selling secrets to British intelligence. Skripal was a former colonel in military intelligence.

Skripal was released from prison in 2010 and sent to Britain in a spy swap between the United Kingdom and Russia.

In retaliation for using a nerve agent on British soil, United States and United Kingdom officials expelled Russian diplomats from their embassies. Russia responded by doing the same after expelling British and U.S. diplomats from Moscow.

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