The  Navy late Feb. 8 issued a final request for proposals (RFP) for the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS), a new missile intended to give the Littoral Combat Ship and the Future Frigate a “longer reach” against ship targets.

The Navy says it needs the missile because potential adversaries are developing long-range, anti-ship weapons of their own, which will require LCS and FF to stand off at greater distances to stay out of harm’s way.

A Harpoon Block IC missile is launched from the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) in July 2016. (U.S. Navy photo)
A Harpoon Block IC missile is launched from the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) in July 2016. (U.S. Navy photo)

Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] confirmed Feb. 9 that they plan to submit bids, which are due May 9. Raytheon [RTN] and Norway’s Kongsberg [KOG], which have indicated in the past that they might offer a joint bid, did not respond to a request for comment on the RFP.

Boeing intends to offer the Harpoon Block II Plus Extended Range (Block II+ER), an upgrade from the Harpoon Block IC anti-ship missile that the Navy currently fields on aircraft and ships. The Block II+ upgrade allows the missile to receive in-flight targeting updates from the Link 16 network, while the ER upgrade doubles the range of the current Harpoon missile to over 130 nautical miles.

The Navy is already incorporating the Block II+ upgrade onto the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and plans to achieve an initial operational capability with that effort later this year. The ER capability underwent captive-carry testing on a Super Hornet last year and is scheduled to be fired in flight for the first time this quarter at Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif. In July, a Harpoon Block IC was fired for the first time from a Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Coronado (LCS-4).

Troy Rutherford, director of Boeing cruise missile systems, said the Navy’s decades of experience with Harpoon and the missile’s existing logistics and training programs help make the Harpoon Block II+ER a low-cost, low-risk option for OTH-WS.

“The Harpoon is very well understood,” Rutherford said. “We’ll be offering new weapons to surface Navy that really build on what the Harpoon does today.”

Lockheed Martin plans to offer the surface-launched variant of its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), “an extremely capable, long-range missile packaged with an easily integrated deck-mounted launcher and fire-control suite,” company spokesman John Kent said.

Lockheed Martin announced in July that it fired the LRASM from a moving ship for the first time. The air-launched LRASM is already being integrated on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Air Force’s B-1B bomber.

Raytheon and Kongsberg indicated last year that they were gearing up to offer the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), which Norway has operated since 2012. The two companies announced in July that they were finalizing plans to build and test NSM in the United States.

The Navy is expected to award an OTH-WS contract as early as November.