NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—Lockheed Martin [LMT], Raytheon Technologies [RTX] and small businesses

Crescent Systems and Long Wave have joined prime contractor Northrop Grumman [NOC] in pursuit of the Navy’s new program to support its TACAMO mission of providing assured, secure round-the-clock connectivity between U.S. leaders and the nation’s ballistic missile submarine fleet.

Northrop Grumman in mid-March announced it would bid for the E-XX TACAMO fleet of missionized aircraft systems, bringing its weapons system and battle management integration expertise to bear on its offering. The Navy currently plans to award a contract for the program in the first quarter of fiscal year 2025.

The aircraft for the E-XX will be Lockheed Martin’s C-130J-30, which the Navy selected, and the service also directed the Collins very low frequency radio system as part of the solution. Collins is part of Raytheon Technologies.

TACAMO stands for Take Charge and Move Out and is a long-standing mission to provide survivable communications in the event of a nuclear conflict. The current TACAMO aircraft is the Boeing [BA]-built E-6B, a derivative of the company’s 707 commercial aircraft.

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works business unit will bring its C-130 mission systems integration expertise for the E-XX bid, Mike Acree, director of Skunk Works, said during a briefing for media during the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space symposium here.

“We’re developing operations in an integrated digital environment,” Acree said. “And we’re going to deliver an open system architecture that meets the compliance standards for open systems.”

Raytheon Technologies will provide integrated communications systems to include data flows, virtual servers and voice capabilities, Paul Mongillo, vice president of the requirements and capabilities group, surveillance and network systems, at Raytheon Intelligence and Space, said during the briefing. Raytheon also supports the current TACAMO mission, he said.

Clark Red, CEO of Crescent Systems, said his company is also part of the communications solution, highlighting that Crescent is “very data centric” whereas Raytheon is “very voice centric,” and both companies “come together in the server and network distribution area.”

Long Wave is a long-time contributor to the TACAMO effort.

“We hire all the fleet sailors, all the good guys and girls coming out of the fleet that are TACAMO people,” said Tom “TC” Conroe, executive vice president of Long Wave. “Nobody has more TACAMO sailors than we do working for them. And we leverage those guys and girls. We team them with engineers to provide good, effective solutions for future generation.”

Henry Cyr, director, multi-domain command and control capture programs for Northrop Grumman, said that the company knows from experience that “central to being successful from a technical solution is having a deep understanding of that mission solution.”

Northrop Grumman currently provides engineering support for the E-6B TACAMO and has an increasing role on the program, Cyr said. The company has the integrated maintenance modification contract to install a mission system upgrade and includes a system manufactured by Northrop Grumman, he said.

Cyr said the Navy’s plan is a quick transition from the E-6B to the E-XX using technologies that have advanced beyond the current TACAMO capabilities such as radios, smaller and faster computing systems, and “that can be fielded in the near-term” and result in improved performance. He highlighted that the cybersecurity capabilities that will go into the E-XX are new compared to the E-6B.

Current Navy plans call for nine E-XX aircraft for the TACAMO mission, three that will be for engineering and manufacturing development and another six beyond that in the future years defense program. Cyr said the final number of aircraft will likely be larger.