Navy chooses Saab to design missile tracker illuminator in upgrade of MK 57 surface-to-air missile system

Aug. 5, 2021
The tracking illuminator computer-operated fire-control system acquires targets, generates orders, and fires missiles when targets come into range.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy shipboard electronics experts needed a tracker-illuminator to upgrade the Raytheon MK 57 NATO Seasparrow surface-to-air missile system aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. They found their solution from Saab Inc. in East Syracuse, N.Y.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a potential $104.8 million contract to Saab on Tuesday for the MK 9 Tracker Illuminator System (TIS) Replacement Continuous Wave Tracking Illuminator (CWTI) development and production effort.

The contract is for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), production, and integration of the tracker illuminator replacement for big-deck U.S. Navy amphibious- and helicopter-assault surface warships.

Related: Raytheon to build additional radar fire-control systems for Aegis shipboard electronics

The MK 57 NATO Seasparrow is a medium-range, rapid-reaction missile that uses a semi-active radar-guidance, which uses reflected memory local area network fiber optic cable. It consists of the tracking illuminator and the MK 29 guided missile launching system (GMLS).

The tracking illuminator is a computer-operated fire-control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, generates launcher and missile orders, and in the automatic mode initiates the firing command when the target comes into range.

Saab engineers will capitalize on an existing qualified design, develop the MK 9 TIS interface modifications, produce the MK 9 TIS replacement CWTI, and deploy it as part of the MK 57 MOD 14/15 surface-to-air missile system.

Related: Weapons at the speed of light

The MK 57 system fires the RIM-7 Seasparrow radar-guided missile, which helps protect big-deck naval surface warships from enemy aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship cruise missiles, and similar threats.

The initial contract is for $32.3 million, and has options that could extend its duration through 2030, and increase its value to $104.8 million. On this contract Saab will do the work in East Syracuse, N.Y., and should be finished by August 2023.

For more information contact Saab Inc. online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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