WASHINGTON, 9 July 2013.Electronic warfare (EW) experts at the ITT Exelis Electronic Systems division in Van Nuys, Calif., are helping U.S. Navy researchers develop an add-on advanced EW system to protect surface warships from a newly discovered, yet undisclosed, immediate threat to Navy fleet operations.
Officials of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington announced their intention Friday to award contracts cumulatively worth as much as $65 million to ITT Exelis to help Navy shipboard electronics researchers build and install an embarkable prototype EW system on several Navy surface ships.
NRL scientists are developing the prototype embarkable EW systems in response to an urgent operational need statement (UONS) from the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, based on a newly discovered threat, Navy officials say.
Although the threat is not described in detail, shipboard electronic warfare systems typically are designed to detect and jam enemy radar threats -- particularly the electronics in radar-guided anti-ship missiles. Shipboard EW also can jam radar and other RF systems on manned aircraft and ships.
Navy officials are known to be concerned about advanced radar-guided anti-ship missiles such as the Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-NX-26 Oniks, which may be operational with military forces in Iran, Syria, and other countries in the Middle East for use against U.S. and allied naval forces in and around the Eastern Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and other vital waterways.
Navy officials describe an embarkable system as one where modifications involving power, cooling, air, and other changes are made to Navy ships to support the embarkable system, yet the actual systems are installed only when necessary.
Typically more ships are modified to accept the embarkable system than the number of systems available, and so Navy ships share these embarkable systems as a routable and transferable resource, Navy officials say.
This particular embarkable shipboard EW system is composed of four EW countermeasures units, a control panel, and electrical interface boxes developed by NRL. ITT Exelis will provide engineering and fabrication support.
Navy officials say they need as many as 24 embarkable EW systems to thwart an immediate threat for naval fleet operations. The first system is to be delivered and installed by March 2014. Such a quick-turnaround schedule forces the Navy to avoid a full and open competition to provide necessary services, officials say.
Navy experts built an advanced-development model of the embarkable EW system and tested it last year. NRL experts now are working with ITT Exelis to build a complete engineering development model of the shipboard EW system.
The Navy's standard shipboard EW system today is the Raytheon AN/SLQ-32, which provides early warning, identification, and tracking of enemy threats, as well as some simultaneous jamming of several different threats.
A major program is in place called the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32. The General Dynamics Corp. Advanced Information Systems segment in Fairfax, Va., is prime contractor for SEWIP block 1, the Lockheed Martin Corp. Radar Systems segment in Liverpool, N.Y., won a contract in April to build advanced-development prototypes of the SEWIP Block 2 system, and a team of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on SEWIP block 3.
The ITT Exelis Electronic Systems division has concentrated on shipboard electronic warfare systems for the international market, and in March won a contract worth more than $102 million to provide the electronic support measures (ESM) suite for Australia’s ANZAC frigates and Canberra class landing helicopter dock ships.
Navy officials say they may award contracts to ITT Exelis worth as much as $12 million this year to support the embarkable EW system, as much as $28 million next year, and as much as $25 million in 2015.
Additional information on the upcoming contracts to ITT Exelis to support the embarkable EW system is online at https://www.fbo.gov/notices/476179adc5a703e329cb40509edc5d62.