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Bidders submit concept for US Navy's intelligence-gathering EPX

Northrop Grumman has teamed with L-3 Communications to bid for the US Navy's EPX requirement to replace its Lockheed EP-3E Aries II intelligence-gathering aircraft. Other companies to have responded to the navy's call for EPX concepts include Boeing, EADS North America, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, but most are keeping their cards close to their chest.

Boeing confirms it is proposing a derivative of the 737-based P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft being developed for the USN, but Lockheed and Northrop will not comment on their platform options. EADS and Raytheon confirm that they responded, but have not said whether they submitted proposals as prime contractors or as team members. Embraer and Gulfstream are among potential EPX platform suppliers.

The new fleet of aircraft will replace the EP-3E after fiscal year 2017 © US Navy

Proposals were submitted in response to a 15 November broad agency announcement that will result in the award of multiple five-month study contracts in the first quarter of 2008. The announcement warned that foreign-owned firms would be banned from competing as prime contractors, but could take part as a subcontractor or supplier, with "some restrictions".

Boeing had previously announced it would offer the 737-based EP-8, but there are signals that EADS may offer the Airbus A320 and Embraer the E-190. The USN says it "will consider all platform concepts with the potential to meet certification and performance requirements".

Scheduled to replace the EP-3E after fiscal year 2017, the EPX fleet will perform intelligence missions including electronic eavesdropping and gathering data on maritime vessels. The navy launched the programme following the collapse of the US Army's Aerial Common Sensor project, in which it was a participant.


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