| WASHINGTON, March 26
WASHINGTON, March 26 The U.S. Navy on Wednesday
said it planned to launch an open competition around fiscal 2017
for a next-generation missile, seeking to reassure weapons
makers they still have prospects after a separate deal with
Lockheed Martin Corp for 90 air-launched missiles
sparked a formal protest.
Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told reporters the
Lockheed program was limited in scope and the future, bigger
missile development program would be open to all potential
"That will be competed. That is 100 percent competition," he
said after a hearing held by the House Armed Services
Committee's seapower and projection forces subcommittee.
Stackley defended the Pentagon's decision to order 90
long-range anti-ship missiles from Lockheed that were developed
under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA). He said the move was justified given the urgent
needs of military commanders and said the initial DARPA research
contract with Lockheed was awarded after a formal competition.
"The way to get it out there as quickly as possible is to
take this system that DARPA has developed with Lockheed and
build a limited number (of air-launched missiles) to get it out
into the fleet's hands by the 2018 timeframe," he said.
Stackley said the decision required a special "justification
and authorization" by the Pentagon's acquisition chief since it
was a sole-source deal and that move had sparked a protest by a
He declined further comment, but said he wanted to make very
clear that the larger procurement would be competitively bid.
Contract award protests have grown more common in recent
years given the shrinking number of new weapons programs
Raytheon Co has spoken publicly about its concerns
about the Pentagon's backing for the Lockheed missile, arguing
that its Joint Stand-off Weapons-Extended Range (JSOW-ER) weapon
would offer comparable capability at a far lower cost.
Stackley said the Navy would follow up on the sole-source
deal with Lockheed in coming years with a full competition for
surface-launched missiles, but gave no further details.
Rear Admiral Mathias Winter, the Navy's program executive
officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, told Reuters
in a separate interview the Navy moved ahead with a sole-source
deal for the air-launched missile because of the urgent need.
He declined to give any details on the capabilities of the
Lockheed missile, but said the goal was to start using the
missiles on Air Force B-1 bombers and Navy F/A-18 fighter jets
around fiscal 2018 or 2019 under a joint Navy-led program.
Current Harpoon missiles and Standoff Land Attack
Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) weapons built by Boeing Co
offered a "formidable" capability for attacking moving
targets today, but future threats required added capabilities,
Winter said his office was now reviewing an analysis of
alternatives completed several years ago and embarking on a
thorough feasibility study to map out the requirements for
"Increment 2" of a next-generation missile in the current
constrained budget environment.
"It will look at what launch platform capabilities are
required, and what launch platform capabilities the department
can afford," Winter said.
The Navy planned to launch a full and open competition for
missiles that could be launched from the air, surface ships or
submarines around fiscal year 2016 or 2017, with the goal of
developing new missiles for delivery around 2024, Winter said.
Stackley also defended the Navy's decision to halt
production of Tomahawk cruise missiles made by Raytheon, arguing
that the current inventory of some 4,000 missiles was adequate.
He said there would be a production gap from 2016 to 2019,
when the current generation of missiles will need to be
overhauled and recertified. But he said Raytheon would still
have work to do on certain modernization projects.
Winter said foreign military sales and modifications would
also help Raytheon sustain the Tomahawk industrial base until
the existing missiles came in for recertification work.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Matt Driskill)