Lockheed Martin’s [LMT] said its recent $56 million Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS) combat systems engineering contract will move it to a new build model and add efficiencies to overall surface fleet defenses.

The company won the award last week, making it the next SSDS Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA)

. Lockheed Martin already serves as CSEA for the Aegis combat system (Defense Daily, Aug. 15).

The USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) during acceptance trials. Photo by Lance Davis/HII

In this role, the company will develop, integrate, and maintain combat system capabilities for the self-defense system.

Specifically, it will “evolve the SDSS” combat system into Build 12, adding new capability upgrades and maintaining SSDS in-service baselines, Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Jennifer Stringfellow told Defense Daily.

SDSS is a combat system that integrates sensors and weapons to defend various non-Aegis supported ships like carriers and amphibious ship classes.

Raytheon [RTN] is the incumbent engineering agent for SDSS and Stringfellow said Lockheed Martin anticipates overlap as they finish their work on earlier SSDS builds while Lockheed Martin starts SSDS Build 12.

Raytheon has served as the SDSS engineering agent since the program began.

Stringfellow underscored the importance of this award.

“This is tremendously important to Lockheed Martin, because it validates the Navy’s confidence in us based on our work as the Aegis CSEA and the weapon system provider for Littoral Combat Ship and Frigate.”

She said the company feels especially prepared to assume the CSEA responsibility, given its experience integrating the same sensors and effectors on the Aegis system. “So we should be able to do it affordably on SSDS,” Stringfellow added.

The company believes the new contract will enable efficiency for the Navy as it gives Lockheed Martin an opportunity to develop new capabilities only once and then send them out to the whole surface fleet.

“We believe [the award] demonstrates the Navy’s trust in our engineering rigor and integration experience that are important for any future CSEA project. We trust that we’ll be able to perform in a way that reinforces that trust the Navy has placed in us, which we hope will lead to continued opportunity to serve as the Surface Navy’s CSEA,” Stringfellow said.

The Navy has not revealed the two other competitors in the contract, but Raytheon was the incumbent on this contract and in 2014 Northrop Grumman [NOC] won an engineering services contract for SDSS (Defense Daily, July 22, 2014).