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US Navy awards $360 mln contracts to Lockheed Martin

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MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

WASHINGTON (BNS): US Navy has awarded a $360 million worth variety of production and development contracts to defence contractor Lockheed Martin to support US Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter fleet.

"The Navy’s investment in the MH-60R fleet ensures our pilots and aircrews have the best and most advanced equipment for every mission," Capt. Dean Peters, U.S. Navy MH-60 program manager, was quoted as saying in the Lockheed Martin news release.

The company is currently preparing for its 300th cockpit delivery milestone in late February. US Navy has also exercised a $38 million option under the current multi-year contract to cover production of the next lot of common cockpits for MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters. The bulk of the work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego, New York, and is scheduled for completion by April 2013.

Additionally, the Navy will provide MH-60R/S crews with improved situational awareness by incorporating Lockheed Martin’s Situational Awareness Technology Insertion (SATI) aboard the aircraft under a $35 million contract.

The award covers a pre-development iteration of SATI, an eight-component package of upgrades and improvements to the helicopter’s flight management system. Improvements include a new integrated digital map to give pilots a clear picture of their operating area, and an upgrade to the Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) system. The IFF upgrade will prevent interference during transmission and ensure interoperability with the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies, the release added.

The company will also look after the production of Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) aboard the MH-60R under a $ 36 million contract.

In October 2010, Lockheed Martin and US Navy successfully completed initial flight tests of the system aboard an MH-60R, marking the first time a helicopter has had the functionality for its on-board radar to automatically discriminate between a periscope and other small surface objects, significantly improving the probability of finding a submarine.

This recent contract award covers the infrastructure required to meet full-rate production and the fielding of the ARPDD radar system aboard six MH-60R production aircraft to support Initial Operational Capability in 2013.

Construction of the next lot of 24 MH-60R mission avionics suites and 18 MH-60S cockpits will begin under a $72 million Multi-Year II advanced acquisition contract award that covers long-lead items for the helicopters and cockpit systems. Lockheed Martin and partner Sikorsky Aircraft have delivered more than 85 MH-60R helicopters to date and are on track to reach the century mark early in 2011.

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