Navy picks Saab to develop sensor for shipboard missile launcher that defends ships from airborne threats

April 5, 2023
MK 57 launches NATO Seasparrow medium-range missile that uses a semi-active radar-guidance and reflected memory local area network fiber optic cable.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy shipboard electronics experts needed a tracker-illuminator to upgrade the Raytheon MK 57 NATO Seasparrow surface-to-air missile launcher 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 $14.6 million order to Saab last month for the MK 9 Tracker Illuminator System (TIS) Replacement Continuous Wave Tracking Illuminator (CWTI) development and production effort. The order is part of a potential $104.8 million contract to Saab awarded in 2021.

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.

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

Related: Lockheed Martin to build HIMARS missile launchers to send multimode seeker munitions to their targets

The tracking illuminator is a computer-operated fire-control sensor 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.

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.

On this order Saab will do the work in East Syracuse, Ronkonkoma, and Airmont N.Y.; as well as Rancho Cordova and Mountain View, Calif., and should be finished by March 20235. For more information contact Saab Inc. online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

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