MDA Awards New Navy Interceptor Development Contracts

by: Matthew Potter
April 13, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, Lockheed Martin, MDA, missile defense, Proposal, Raytheon, S&T, Services, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has been investing billions in a series of different systems to provide layered missile defense. These include Army ground based programs such as PATRIOT PAC-3 and THAAD. The U.S. Navy also is utilizing an evolution of their AEGIS anti-air system to conduct this mission.

The sea based system utilizes an upgrade to the radar software as well as a version of the venerable STANDARD Missile 2 (SM-2) called the SM-3 which has been a staple of the Navy’s anti-air program for over thirty years. The missile uses the propulsion system of the anti-air missile to get a kinetic warhead out of the Earth’s atmosphere to intercept the enemy target. It has been undergoing development and testing since the early Nineties.

MDA and the Navy are working on different versions of the missile and Raytheon (RTN) was just awarded a contract for 24 Block IB versions. The company is also investing in a new production facility in Huntsville, AL for the missiles.

Now that the concept has been demonstrated and a certain capability reached the MDA and Navy are moving out on developing a whole new missile for use with the ship based system. As they did late last year when they started work on the new radar for the system the government awarded multiple development contracts to different defense companies.

Three of the largest defense contractors in the U.S. – Raytheon, Boeing (BA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) – were awarded concept development contracts each worth about $40 million. When the program reaches the first milestone of the “Integrated Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Management System” there will then be a down select to one or more of the company’s ideas for further development.

Ultimately as it winds its way towards a production decision one of the concepts will go through development and testing and ultimately into production. If the government is comfortable with the different designs and has the money to invest it might even conduct a “fly off” of the competitors to force more competition and hopefully a better price. For a system this complex and expensive that might not be a viable approach in the end as missile defense tests prove to be very expensive.

Either way the MDA is trying to see if a more effective, reliable and economic solution exists rather then just continue to evolve the SM-2 and SM-3 family although in the end that may be the path selected.

Photo from U.S. Missile Defense Agency flickr photostream.

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