Banking on their experience and success with the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) and the Advanced Gun System (AGS), BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin [LMT] are partnering to develop a 5-inch precision-guided Extended Range Munition (ERM) for the Navy.

The partnership, made public June 2, will rely on lessons the two companies have garnered from their LRLAP and AGS efforts, Dennis Morris, president armament systems, BAE Land and Armaments, told sister publication Defense Daily.

“As a matter of fact, that is one of the key points we are using [in] our development. We’ve got a lot of successes in the development work we are doing there and really the idea is to do some scaling work,” Morris said. “There is a lot of commonality even in the systems we would use from one to the other. It’s just a matter of doing some scaling on certain key areas to downscale it to a 5-inch round.”

LRLAP and AGS are being developed for DDG-1000.

Lockheed Martin makes LRLAP and BAE produces AGS.

“Lockheed Martin is pleased to be working with BAE Systems to develop this new long-range guided munition. Our intention is to deliver an affordable weapon system that leverages the success of our 6-inch Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP),” Glenn Kuller, director of Advanced Programs for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told sisterpubication Defense Daily. “Our two companies have a long history of delivering precision munitions on-cost and on-schedule.

“As we move forward in the development of this technology, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems will be clearly focused on the warfighter, making sure that we deliver a system that will serve them in their defining moments,” he said.

Since the 1990s, the Navy has been pursuing a 5-inch munition that could be used to provide surface fire support for Marines.

The original ERM contract was awarded in 1996 to Texas Instruments [TXN] to develop and test a 5-inch precision munition. In 1997, Raytheon [RTN] acquired Texas Instruments and, in 1999, moved the program to its plant in Arizona, resulting in workforce disruption and delays, GAO said. In 2001, Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for ERM was pushed out to 2011 (Defense Daily, Dec. 6, 2006).

But after more than a decade, neither Raytheon nor ATK [ATK], which was awarded an alternative demonstration contract in 2004, have been able to demonstrate reliability with their respective rounds.

In March, the Navy ceased funding Raytheon’s Extended Range Guided Munition (Defense Daily, March 26). Since then, the Navy has maintained it is committed to finding a solution for ERM and plans to develop an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for Naval Surface Fire Support beginning in the fourth quarter of FY ’08 (Defense Daily, June 9).

Raytheon plans to continue with its ERGM effort, but the company is waiting to find out how the AoA is scoped, Dennis Carroll, vice president of business development, told sister publication Defense Daily.

ATK has stated it will continue to pursue its Ballistic Trajectory Extended Range Munition (BTERM).

According to an industry source, ATK has about $1 million it can put toward development and testing of BTERM (Defense Daily, March 26).

Morris said the success BAE and Lockheed Martin have had with AGS and LRLAP gives the team confidence they can succeed where others have failed.

“We are not starting from a clean sheet of paper here. We are not taking on something completely brand new,” he said. “We are actually taking an existing program and working from the success we have had here.”

Morris acknowledged there will be challenges along the way. “But we think we have a fairly solid position to start from and that’s what gives us that confidence.”

A key challenge, Morris noted, will be in keeping the momentum the two companies have developed on AGS and LRLAP, going forward.

“[Making] sure we leverage the lessons and not getting any further ahead of ourselves than we need to,” he added.

For its part, BAE is going to bring the partnership the full spectrum of a systems integrator, Morris said. The company is the systems integrator for LRLAP as well as for AGS.

BAE and Lockheed Martin have been holding discussions with the Navy on the path ahead for ERM, Morris said.

Hopefully, over the next several months, the two companies will get their plan in place, he added.

The Navy plans to fire the 5-inch ERM from BAE’s Mk 45 Mod 4 naval gun system.

The service plans to install the Mk 45 Mod 4 on 32 DDGs, beginning with DDG- 81 (Defense Daily, May 24, 2007).

Morris acknowledged that designing the gun that will shoot ERM does have its advantages.

“Obviously the issues about designing a gun and the issues around designing munitions are really two separate issues.

But the fact we are the actual gun manufacturer really helps,” he said. “We have a complete understanding of the total system view of what it requires for this problem. Everything from the fire control all the way up through the munition itself.”

But it’s not just about the gun or ERM, Mike Teegardin, company spokesman, told sister publication Defense Daily in the same interview. “It’s about the capability that you are delivering to the customer.”