By B.C. Kessner

Naval Sea Systems Command awarded ITT [ITT] the sole third option of the Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (JCREW) 3.3 contract worth $29 million for development of the next generation counter-IED system.

“This is the execution of the Phase III option, of which they are only exercising the option for one contractor,” Paul Mueller, vice president and general manager of ITT’s force protection systems unit, told Defense Daily on Friday. “The reality is that it is a downselect, we are the only company going forward at this stage of the program.”

In Phases I and II of the competition, ITT and Northrop Grumman [NOC] both produced designs for JCREW 3.3. Phase I took the companies to the preliminary design review, and Phase II took them to the critical design review (CDR) that was conducted in the October timeframe, Mueller said. The intent was to only exercise one option after CDR, he added.

“Phase III takes us through the engineering development model (EDM) phase,” Mueller said. In Phases I and II, ITT came up with its design. As part of Phase 2, the company validated some of its design with performance system verification models (PSVM), he added.

“We actually built some hardware so we could validate some of the performance that we predicted in the CDR,” Mueller said. “What we’re doing in Phase III is continuing testing on the PSVMs and building the next generation of hardware in the EDM and taking that to the field for more rigorous testing.”

ITT will do two different phases of developmental testing, including some limited user testing in Phase III, he added. “At the completion of Phase III, we will be positioned to go for the Milestone C decision, and then into LRIP [low rate initial production].”

Milestone C is scheduled for the end of FY ’11 and first part of FY ’12.

LRIP would likely be for about 1,500 systems, depending on the desired mix fixed, mounted, and dismounted configurations of the JCREW 3.3 family of systems, Mueller said. That award is expected by the second quarter of 2012, perhaps earlier depending on long-lead material and how ITT fares during EDM phase, he added.

Full-rate production is estimated for 2013-1014, depending on how many of the services participate and to what degree. “If all services join, with the Army and the Marines being the biggest…and the Navy and Air Force to a smaller extent, full production would probably be in the 15,000 range,” he said.

The CREW program is run by PMS-408–the Joint Counter Radio controlled improvised explosive device Electronic Warfare/Explosive Ordnance Disposal (JCREW/EOD) program office.

JCREW 3.3 is a System of Systems (SoS) that enables the networking of several jammers to address threats in a more efficient and strategic way, ITT said. The SoS includes devices that are man-portable, vehicle-mounted and fixed site that all work together to prevent the detonation of IEDs. ITT will develop all three capabilities under this contract.

According to the company, as the IED threat continues to evolve, the SoS is designed to be flexible and features data collection and networking functions to provide improved situational awareness to U.S. and allied forces while enabling new reconnaissance, signals intelligence and electronic attack capabilities. Its open architecture and modular design includes enhanced performance beyond the sum capability of the currently fielded systems.

ITT provides JCREW 2.1 systems for use by all four branches of the military and specialized systems for U.S. Special Operations Command. It has produced and deployed more than 30,000 CREW systems, including the first ground-mobile and man-portable systems, the company said. It was awarded the production contract for JCREW 3.2 vehicle-mounted systems in August 2010.