The US Navy has released the request for proposals (RFP) for its scaled-back Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) programme to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin will respond to the RFP by year-end, with award of a system development and demonstration contract scheduled for early in the third quarter of next year.

The MMA programme has been reduced from 150 aircraft to 100 following the US Navy's decision to use a version of the US Army's Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) to perform the intelligence-gathering role of the EP-3E Aries, and unmanned air vehicles to perform some of the P-3C's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks.

Under the restructured programme, the MMA's primary mission will be anti-submarine warfare, although the design is also required to provide anti-surface warfare and armed littoral ISR capabilities. Boeing is proposing a military derivative of the Next Generation 737, while Lockheed Martin is taking a low-risk approach, offering new-production Orion 21s - modernised versions of the P-3C.

Lockheed Martin is also competing against Northrop Grumman to develop both the ACS and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV that will augment the MMA.

Source: Flight International