The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to Boeing for border security work, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said on Wednesday.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, released a statement in response to what she called the announcement that Boeing had been awarded the Secure Border Initiative contract.

The Washington Post reported earlier that Boeing Co. had won the contract, put at $2.1 billion.

Boeing itself stopped short of confirming that it had been selected but spokesman Robert Villanueva said it expected good news when a formal announcement is made on Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is scheduled to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) on Thursday on the award of the contract, aimed at improving security along more than 7,500 miles of U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.

The winning bidder will install new tracking sensors and communications equipment to help U.S. border agents in their monitoring.

Boeing teamed up with L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., Unisys Corp. and others in its bid. Other competitors were Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. nd Raytheon Co., well as Sweden's Ericsson.

Each bidder put together a team of U.S. and foreign companies specializing in everything from sensors to visual recognition technology to long-range cameras.