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September 14, 2006

Navy moves to protect ships against terrorists

As the Cole incident demonstrated, the most likely threat to Navy ships these days is not from enemy combatants but from terrorists in rubber boats full of fertilizer--or some equally low-tech but deadly threat.

Addressing this reality, the Navy recently awarded a $6.03 million contract for the Shipboard Protection System (SPS) to an industry team led by Northrop Grumman Naval and Marine Systems division in Charlottesville, Va.

Under the contract, the team will next year deliver the first phase of the program, termed "SPS Increment I capability,: which increases naval vesselsÕ abilities to counter small boats and related threats in port and in the littorals.

"SPS Increment I, which will be installed aboard the FleetÕs surface warships, amphibious ships, and aircraft carriers, represents an important step forward in our Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection program, and lays the foundation for follow-on capabilities," says Rear Adm. William E. Landay, III, Program Executive Officer, Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO LMW).

SPS Increment I combines existing technologies, such as the SPS-73 surface search radar, with an electro-optical/IR sensor, long-range loud hailers, and remotely operated .50 caliber gun mounts.

"Under SPS Increment I we are building on our ships' existing defensive capabilities with advanced technologies to provide our sailors with increased surveillance and detection capability and scalable engagement options 24-7," saya Capt. Paul A. Cruz, program manager for PEO LMW's Anti-Terrorism Afloat Program Office (PMS 480).

SPS Increment II will build on Increment I and further improve shipsÕ abilities to counter underwater threats. Increment III will provide additional capability to deal with air threats, in port.

During the first phase of the system development and demonstration effort, to be completed next March, Northrop Grumman will provide an integrated surface- surveillance system and non-lethal weapons and devices. The surface-surveillance system will incorporate electro-optical and infrared sensors, and radar into a common tactical-surveillance system.

For the first contract phase, Northrop Grumman will act as the system integrator; provide system design, mission-specific hardware, software, and firmware components; and implement performance-based logistics.

Other team members are:

Ocean Systems Engineering Corporation, Carlsbad, Calif., which will provide situational awareness and non-lethal engagement software, user interfaces and concepts of operation;

Science Applications International Corporation, Bloomfield, Ind., which will manage the system assembly and test, as well as shipboard installation and logistics; and

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, Burlington, Vt., which will be the lethal engagement systems integrator and support the weapons-system safety certification.



The next phase of the Shipboard Protection System program, to be implemented in fiscal year 2007, will incorporate swimmer- and diver-detection capabilities, with an unmanned surface-vehicle capability to be added in the future. Additional future plans may include adding non-lethal technologies, providing capability to deal with air threats, and developing predictive-awareness tools.

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