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 bidders.
"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 rival
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 available.
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.
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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.
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
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)
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