US Navy orders Aegis weapon system

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The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin $260m for Aegis Weapon Systems to equip three Australian Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD) and one Spanish F-100-class frigate.

The four will be next-generation Aegis Weapon Systems, among the first to include 100 per cent commercial off-the-shelf hardware and a fully open architecture computing environment. Lockheed Martin will synchronise production of the systems for Australia and Spain with the US Navy’s Aegis modernisation programme, which calls for delivery of the first fully open architecture Aegis Weapon System to the USS Bunker Hill in 2008.

The latest contract is a modification to a June 2006 award of $85m for Australia’s AWD long lead material items. The modification covers the production phase for Aegis Weapon Systems for the three Australian destroyers and for Spain’s fifth Aegis-equipped ship.

The contract is the latest milestone for the AWD programme. Currently, the Australian government is in the process of selecting the AWD ship design in support of final programme approval. The Aegis Weapon Systems Lockheed Martin will produce through this contract will support equally both of the ship designs under evaluation. Earlier this month, the US Navy also contracted Lockheed Martin to produce the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) for the AWD in an identical manner, again supporting both ship designs.

The Aegis Weapon System is currently deployed on 81 ships around the globe, with more than 25 additional ships planned.