The UK Ministry of Defence is due to select a prime contractor by the end of this year for its Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC) system that will initially be fitted to its Type 23 air defence warships and later the Type 45s. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are competing for the 30-month risk-reduction deal.

CEC collates data from a range of sensors to create a single air picture, while improving track accuracy and continuity, target identification, decision-making time and engagement range.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are developing CEC for the US Navy, with the former producing software version 2.2, which incorporates theatre ballistic missile capability for ships with Lockheed Martin's Aegis combat system. Raytheon is developing version 2.1, which will equip aircraft carriers, assault ships and frigates.

UK CEC is due to receive final approval in July 2005 and enter service in 2007. The initial programme covers seven Type 23s with the 12 Type 45s to be equipped later. The Type 23 work effectively de-risks the Type 45 programme.

Dr Tony Gecan of Raytheon Command, Control, Communication and Information Systems, says the company's CEC plans include integrating more sensors while exploiting existing datalinks, satellite communications systems and radio channels.

Additional sensors, beyond today's systems, could include the Multi-Function Radar/Volume Search Radar, the radar from the Lockheed Martin THAAD air defence system in development for the US Army, and the US Air Force's Boeing E-3 Sentrys. Non-radar sensors would include precision electronic surveillance systems and infrared search and track.

Lockheed Martin UK's Nick Ellis says its bid benefits from access to the Theater Network Integration Center (TNIC) and the company's Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems unit at Moorestown, New Jersey. TNIC has been built to test Aegis and CEC together. Earlier systems were tested at sea.

Source: Flight International