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NAVSEA award takes ESSM Block 2 into full-rate production

The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has awarded Raytheon Missiles & Defense a contract worth up to USD1.28 billion for full-rate production (FRP) of the Block 2 variant of the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) ship self-defence missile.

An evolution of the in-service RIM-162 ESSM Block 1, the Block 2 all-up-round replaces the legacy guidance section and introduces a new dual-mode active/semi-active X-band radar seeker.

The ESSM programme is a co-operative effort between the US Navy (USN) and its 11 NATO SeaSparrow Consortium partners (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey). The ESSM Block 2 missile has been developed to counter future threat capabilities – including reduced signatures, increased raid sizes, and electronic countermeasures – within the existing kinematic envelope.

The introduction of the new dual-mode radar seeker increases the diameter of the missile's front-end section from eight to 10 inches. The introduction of an active seeker channel supports terminal engagement without the requirement for target illumination by the launch ship.

Warhead improvements, and an updated guidance and control section are also embodied. The Block 2 missile will use a new Dual Band Transceiver (S- and X-band) for in-flight data communications to enable control and management of the missile during flight.

The FRP contract, awarded by NAVSEA on 29 September on behalf of the NATO SeaSparrow Consortium, is initially valued at USD358 million for fiscal years 2021–23 ESSM Block 2 production requirements for the USN and the governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Turkey. Options in the contract, if exercised at maximum quantities, could bring the cumulative value of the award up to USD1.28 billion, and extend the duration of the contract from March 2025 to March 2027.

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