Navy nearing end of competition to develop helicopter-based EW to protect ships from missiles

WASHINGTON, 1 Oct. 2014. U.S. Navy surface-warfare experts will begin deciding next month on a contractor to design and build a helicopter-based long-range electronic warfare (EW) system to counter existing and future advanced anti-ship missiles.

Oct 1st, 2014
Navy nearing end of competition to develop helicopter-based EW to protect ships from missiles
Navy nearing end of competition to develop helicopter-based EW to protect ships from missiles
WASHINGTON, 1 Oct. 2014. U.S. Navy surface-warfare experts will begin deciding next month on a contractor to design and build a helicopter-based long-range electronic warfare (EW) system to counter existing and future advanced anti-ship missiles.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington will close a competition on 10 Nov. 2014 for the preliminary design and low-rate initial production phase of the Advance Off-board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) program.

AOEW will provide long-endurance, off-board electronic countermeasures against current and future anti-ship missile threats with a long-duration EW active mission payload for the MH-60R and MH-60S ship-based maritime helicopters.

Related: How vulnerable are U.S. Navy vessels to advanced anti-ship cruise missiles?

Navy officials first announced the AOEW program last April, and issued a formal solicitation in August. Companies must have top-secret facilities to be eligible to participate in the program.

The AOEW program intended to devise countermeasures for some of the world's most advanced radar-guided anti-ship missiles, such as the Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-NX-26 Oniks.

The Sunburn can fly at three times the speed of sound and carries a 705-pound explosive warhead. The Oniks missile, meanwhile, can fly as fast as Mach 2.5, carries a 661-pound warhead, and may have the capability to maneuver on its terminal flight to its target, which could make defeating it difficult, if not impossible.

Related: ITT Exelis to help Navy with new EW system to protect ships from recently discovered threat

One of the goals of the AOEW program is to detect and jam incoming fast anti-ship missiles at standoff ranges to give on-board and off-board missile defenses a fighting chance at staving off the incoming weapon.

The AOEW competition -- expected to attract bids from some of the nation's top-tier EW houses such as Raytheon Co. Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Exelis Inc., and BAE Systems -- seeks to build an AOEW advanced mission payload that integrates not only with the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters, but also with the Navy's AN/SLQ-32 shipboard EW system.

Although initial AOEW prototypes are to be installed on MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters, future deployable versions may be intended for long-range, long-endurance fixed-wing or helicopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), experts say.

Related: Lockheed Martin to build shipboard electronic warfare prototypes in $39.1 million contract

The winning AOEW contractor will be asked to develop a modular open-systems architecture (MOSA) to enable the EW payload to adapt to evolving threats, hasten deployment, reduce development time and costs, and facilitate future system upgrades and technology insertion.

The deadline for submitting AOEW proposals is 10 Nov. 2014. More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DON/NAVSEA/NAVSEAHQ/N00024-14-R-5353/listing.html.

More in Trusted Computing