Defense contractor rivals to team on Navy surface combat system

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, for years the two biggest systems integrators for U.S. Navy ship systems — and for many programs, the biggest competitors — announced in early February that they will team to compete for a planned 2004 contract award for Block 2 version of the Cooperative Engagement Capability system — better-known as CEC.

By Edward J. Walsh

WASHINGTON — Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, for years the two biggest systems integrators for U.S. Navy ship systems — and for many programs, the biggest competitors — announced in early February that they will team to compete for a planned 2004 contract award for Block 2 version of the Cooperative Engagement Capability system — better-known as CEC.

The Block 1 CEC, now fielded to several cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers, as well as the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, consolidates in real time the target data from air-defense radars aboard ships, E-2C Hawkeye surveillance aircraft, and potentially ground sites to produce a common targeting picture that all participants in a CEC network share. The Navy-proprietary system consists of a CEC processor, secure high-rate data distribution system, and a phased-array antenna.

Raytheon's Network Centric Systems business unit is the prime contractor on the Block 1 system. The company has delivered 71 pre-production and limited-rate production systems in the shipboard and airborne configurations, and expects to start work on 12 full-production rate systems with 2003 funding.

Company program officials say that they're continuing to upgrade the system by replacing obsolescent circuit cards through incremental hardware upgrades, including starting production of a new planar array antenna assembly.

Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems in McKinney, Texas, is the longtime prime contractor for the Aegis combat systems aboard Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — the Navy's primary air-defense surface ships, and primary integration target for CEC.

In December, Lockheed Martin also won a United Kingdom Ministry of Defence contract to integrate CEC aboard the Royal Navy's Type 23 air-defense frigates.

U.S. Navy officials were set last month to release a formal request for proposals for the Block 2 CEC system. The contract should be awarded in early 2004, and the first-unit deliveries should be 2006.

The Block 2 CEC effort responds to directions from the Pentagon that the Navy dramatically expand CEC's role for working together with other military services for air defense.

The Block 2 system will increase bandwidth efficiency, add a new sensor interface to open CEC to Army and Air Force sensors, and enable it to transfer data through new communications systems beyond the current Navy-proprietary CEC data distribution system. Block 2 also must be lighter and less expensive than Block 1.

Leaders of the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin team say they hope the Navy will buy 256 systems by 2018, with 155 systems planned for ship installations, for a market potentially worth $1 billion on top of an estimated $2 billion value for the current Block 1 program.

Raytheon will act as the prime contractor and design agent for the team, with responsibility for 60 percent of the development and design work, while Lockheed Martin will be the principal subcontractor, handling the remaining 40 percent.

Raytheon engineers will develop new CEC terminal hardware, enhanced networking and target-tracking software, systems interfaces, a new CEC phased-array antenna, and manage production.

Lockheed Martin will design new interfaces to the Aegis SPY-1 air-defense radar, develop ballistic missile defense, and satellite communications capabilities, as well as support antenna development and production.

Officials for both companies say they have not yet decided on adding new team members. Raytheon officials in late December announced the acquisition of Solipsys Inc. of Laurel, Md., a developer of tactical component network or TCN software, which some Navy and industry officials say provides the critical capability needed to reduce bandwidth requirements and accommodate non-CEC communications systems.

More in Communications