Raytheon [RTN] and Norway’s Kongsberg [KOG] said Thursday that they will work together on the existing Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and offer the anti-surface, mid-range cruise missile to the U.S. Navy and other forces.                                                                     

The teaming agreement calls for the two companies to co-produce the anti-ship and land-attack missile, which Kongsberg now builds in Norway, and jointly pursue improvements to the weapon.

The Navy's test of the NSM on a Littoral Combat Ship last year. Photo: US Navy
The Navy’s test of the NSM on a Littoral Combat Ship last year. Photo: US Navy

“We will work on the further development of the missile together when new challenges come,” said Harald Annestad, president of Kongsberg Defense Systems. “We also need Raytheon’s much larger supply chain and international reach with the ability to sustain the missile all over the world.” 

One of the first opportunities the team is eyeing is the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). To give LCS more firepower, the Navy is expected to issue a request for proposals for a “next-generation strike capability” in 2016 and begin an acquisition effort in 2017. Austal USA and Lockheed Martin [LMT] are developing variants of LCS.

Annestad and Thomas Bussing, vice president of advanced missile systems at Raytheon Missile Systems, told reporters that NSM is more maneuverable and stealthy than legacy missiles, which are increasingly vulnerable to new countermeasures. They said another benefit to potential customers is that the Norwegian government has already paid for the missile’s development costs. 

NSM, which has a range of more than 200 kilometers, is operational for Norway’s new frigates and corvettes and Poland’s land-based coastal defense and is slated to be acquired by the Royal Malaysian Navy. NSM was test-fired from the USS Coronado (LCS-4) in a September 2014 test. During the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercises, it was fired from a Norwegian frigate and hit a target ship. 

Raytheon and Kongsberg said their teaming agreement builds on decades of cooperation between the two companies, including a decision last year to co-develop the Joint Strike Missile, an air-launched version of NSM. 

The exact amount of NSM production Raytheon does in the United States will depend on how many missiles are ordered. 

“If the U.S. buys this missile in large numbers … the production capability and the ramp-up capability of this missile will also exist here in the U.S.,” Annestad said. “If the customer comes in with a fairly low volume, it’s not cost-effective for anybody to pick up a new production line.”

Lockheed Martin, a potential competitor to Kongsberg-Raytheon for an LCS missile, said in a statement that it is monitoring the Navy’s requirements definition process and that a variant of its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) would “provide a world-class anti-surface warfare capability against all current and predicted threats.”