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  • Raytheon Defends Its BMD Turf
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 1:58 PM on Mar 17, 2011

    Raytheon is talking up the advantages of incumbency in two big missile defense programs: the Next Generation Aegis Missile (NGAM) and the space-based Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS). Not surprising, since Raytheon is the incumbent in both and the Missile Defense Agency is trying to open them up to competition.

    NGAM is still called Standard Missile-3 Block IIB. It is part of Phase 4 of the Obama administration's Aegis-based Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense, and is intended to enter service in 2020. The idea is to give both Aegis ships and the Aegis Ashore land-based system the ability to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are too fast to be engaged by the US-Japanese SM-3 Block IIA.

    The original idea was to mate the in-development Block IIA with a higher-performing kill vehicle, but studies have shown the need for more performance, so the MDA is planning to award three contracts for NGAM studies ranging across kill vehicles, higher-performance boosters, and launcher modifications that would make it possible to enlarge the missile further.

    However, Raytheon missile defense vice-president and general manager Ed Miyashiro argues that "we'd like to see investments [in earlier Standard BMD designs] utilized in the next-generation missile." He adds: "There's a depth of knowledge" in missile and KV design "so intense, that you can't imagine how anyone else would do that."

    The same goes for PTSS. The two experimental Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites, built by Northrop Grumman around a Raytheon sensor suite, are performing well in tests, but the MDA has commissioned Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to lead a team of national labs to develop a smaller, less costly spacecraft for PTSS, and plans to compete its manufacture. Cost is a big issue because you need a sizable constellation (the number is classified) to maintain constant overwatch of rogue missile operators.

    "You have to be careful in how you lighten-up [the spacecraft] and make sure you don't go too far", Miyashiro warns. "You don't want to throw away the investments of the last ten to 20 years."

    In both cases, Raytheon says that its experience is essential to meeting tight schedules.

    Meanwhile, Raytheon sounds like it may be about to score another incumbency win: Selection of the SM-6 or a version of it to provide terminal BMD for the Navy, protecting ships against weapons such as China's DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. The interim solution, a modified version of the previously mothballed Cold War-era SM-2 Block IV, is in service and 75 weapons have been delivered. On the SM-6, Miyashiro says that "when we have news to announce we'll provide it."

    So incumbency, Raytheon says, is good for BMD. F-16 radars are another matter...

    Tags: ar99, mda, missile-defense

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