Boeing [BA] has inched closer to formally competing for the next contract for the Aegis Combat System, with a company spokesman saying Friday the firm’s interest is now “significant.”

“We find this opportunity to be of significant interest for the Boeing Company; however, we are still considering the Navy’s request for proposals (RFP)," spokesman Scott Day told Defense Daily. "Once our evaluation is complete, we will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to bid.”

Boeing had previously said it was considering whether to join the competition for the lucrative contract long held by Lockheed Martin [LMT] (Defense Daily, Sept. 15). Lockheed Martin and Raytheon [RTN] were believed to be the only serious bidders ahead of the Navy’s Nov. 3 deadline for industry to submit proposals, but Boeing potentially joining the competition would add a twist.

Lockheed Martin inherited Aegis when it acquired Martin Marietta in 1995 and has been the sole contractor for the system ever since, but the Navy wants to reopen the contract to a competitive process and issued an RFP earlier this year.

Losing the contract for the Aegis Combat System would be a major blow for Lockheed Martin, but the firm has remained confident it will win and has welcomed the competition as added incentive to evaluate and maximize the performance and affordability of its system.

“We’re not resting on our laurels,” Carmen Valentino, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Future Surface Combatant Programs, recently told Defense Daily.