Australia's Joint Project 5418 follow-on stand-off weapon project has become a two-way competition after Taurus Systems declined to submit a bid when tenders closed on 20 April.

The decision leaves the contest as a choice between Boeing´s SLAM-ER and Lockheed Martin´s AGM-158 JASSM, with both companies submitting bids based on the delivery of up to 260 missiles, including captive training and test and evaluation telemetry rounds.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued Congressional notifications on the possible Foreign Military Sales on 14 April, revealing that the SLAM-ER proposal is worth up to $430 million including options, while Lockheed Martin´s submission totals a possible $163 million.

Taurus notified the Australian Department of Defence project office this month of its decision. The company had been invited to again offer its KEPD350 missile after it was beaten by JASSM in a 1999 competition shelved due to a lack of budget funds.

A downselect for the current competition is expected late this year. The Royal Australian Air Force requires an initial operational capability of the new strike missile aboard its Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from December 2007 and on its Boeing F/A-18A/Bs from December 2009.


Source: Flight International