Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing have submitted proposals to take over support and development of the Aegis combat system, the companies said Dec. 14.
The Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) competition also is intended to provide a follow-on system to Aegis, the U.S. Navy's most capable weapon system and the foundation for its fleet air defense, surface warfare and ballistic missile defense (BMD) missions.
Lockheed has held the Aegis development and support contract since 1995, when it acquired Martin Marietta. The system was first developed by RCA starting in the late 1960s. General Electric then bought the company, which in turn was sold to Martin Marietta and subsequently merged with Lockheed.
Aegis, perhaps the world's most effective naval combat system, has been worth many billions of dollars to Lockheed over the years. All 27 Ticonderoga-class cruisers and at least 70 DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have been built with the system. Spain, Norway, Japan and the Republic of Korea operate Aegis warships, and Australia is building a new class of Aegis destroyers.
A combination of radars, computers and weapons, Aegis was first developed to counter massed attacks by Soviet anti-ship missiles, and has evolved into an effective surface warfare system. Although not designed to target ballistic missiles, the system has been modified with more powerful processors as the basis for the Navy's BMD systems, and is the foundation for the Phased Adaptive Approach effort for the land-based missile defense of Europe.
According to the Missile Defense Agency, 24 Aegis ships - five cruisers and 19 destroyers - have BMD capability. That number is to increase to 32 ships by the end of 2013 as more units are upgraded.
The CSEA effort is intended to provide for the design, development and integration of Aegis weapon system and Aegis combat system future capabilities for existing cruisers and destroyers, and potentially create a new system for DDG 51 Flight III ships beginning in 2016.
Dependent on development, Flight III ships may be fitted with a new combat system or continue with Aegis.
The Navy is expected to award the CSEA contract in the fall of 2012.
A separate competition is underway to develop a new phased-array radar for Aegis. The Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) is to provide new radars to replace existing SPY-1 radars beginning with the U.S. Navy's 2016 Flight III destroyers.
Lockheed, Raytheon and Northrop are working to develop the AMDR, which will be a dual-band system. All three companies are working under Navy contracts to develop an S-band (AMDR-S) radar, with development contracts yet to be issued for the AMDR-X X-band system. The AMDR systems will also include a radar suite controller to integrate the radars.