Smiths Aerospace Eyes Navy Contract

November 28, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Smiths Aerospace, along with three other leading aerospace companies, has joined with Boeing to form the Boeing Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) industry team.

Smiths Aerospace, CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and their partner Boeing are intent on winning the prime MMA contract, which the U.S. Navy is expected to award early next year.

Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin are vying for the contract.

"The team represents the best the aerospace industry has to offer in technical and managerial expertise," said Jack Zerr, MMA program manager for Boeing. "We hope that by working together to identify needed technologies and total system solutions that we can identify and reduce program risks and costs early enough to make a difference.

"Our team stands ready to provide the U.S. Navy with an unbeatable solution for anti-submarine warfare in the 21st century."

The Navy plans to replace its fleet of P-3 aircraft with the 737 MMA, noted Jennifer Villarreal, Smiths communications manager.

The Boeing 737-800 is a commercial aircraft but the 737 MMA will be a customized, militarized version, designed specifically to serve the Navy's maritime patrol requirements.

For Smiths Aerospace alone, the project would generate about $150 million in revenues over the length of the contract.

The new aircraft will provide strategic blue water and undersea warfare capabilities, such as armed intelligence, surveillance and recognizance, Villarreal said.

"The MMA's primary mission will be to provide dominance in anti-submarine warfare," she added.

Worldwide, Smiths Aerospace supplies both flight management and mission management systems for the military avionics industry.

As a partner on the MMA industry team, Smiths would be responsible for the flight management and the "stores management" systems for the Boeing 737 MMA. The latter system provides for the electronic control of integrated weapons management.

CFM International would supply the military engines that power the aircraft, while Northrop Grumman's electronics systems division would supply the electro-optical/infrared sensors, the directional infrared counter measures system and the electronic support measures system. Raytheon would provide the maritime surveillance radar and signals intelligence solutions.

The 737 MMA is scheduled to be in production beginning October 2007 and to be operational in 2012.

About 100 of the aircraft are planned for production, but as many as 150 might be produced, depending on international market demand, Villarreal noted.

She said the development and majority of the production work on Smiths' end would be undertaken at the company's Grand Rapids facility, but some production would be handled at the company's facility in Clearwater, Fla.

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