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New CEO to prepare Sparton to end sonobuoy joint venture

ERAPSCO, a joint venture between Sparton Corporation and Ultra Electronics, makes sonobuoys for the US Navy. (ERAPSCO)

At US naval electronic systems producer Sparton Corporation, a priority for its new chief executive officer (CEO) is preparing the company for a shift in how it supplies sonobuoys, one of its main products, to a key customer.

Sparton and UK-based Ultra Electronics have been producing sonobuoys for the US Navy (USN) through a 35-year-old joint venture (JV) called the Expendable Reliable Acoustic Path Sonobuoy Company (ERAPSCO). However, in response to the US Department of Justice's concerns about a lack of competition for the air-launched, submarine-tracking devices, Sparton and Ultra are supposed to dissolve the JV and begin bidding for USN sonobuoy contracts separately.

โ€œThat's going to be sea change for us as we move forward,โ€ said Tracy Howard, who became Sparton's president and CEO in December 2021. โ€œWe're working through that with the navy now. Ultimately, we're both going to be needed by the navy to supply the volume of the sonobuoys they need,โ€ he added.

Sparton and Ultra are both working to qualify their designs with the USN during the next two to three years so they can each produce entire sonobuoys for the navy and compete with each other. The JV will execute existing production contracts until 2023.

In his new role, Howard's other priorities will be expanding Sparton's undersea sensor portfolio and its work on non-maritime classified systems.

โ€œOne of my goals or objectives really is to build on the existing strategy but to stretch and reach into other areas for strategic growth,โ€ Howard told Janes in an interview.

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