By Ann Roosevelt
Raytheon [RTN] has submitted its average missile unit production price for the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), coming in at about a third the cost of a government estimate, a company executive said.
“The government has shared a $304,000 average unit production price estimate and on [March 6], our [Raytheon Missile Systems] president provided a letter to PEO Integration, validating our estimate of $198,000,” Michelle Lohmeier, deputy vice president of Raytheon Land Combat, told Defense Daily in an interview.
Both estimates are based on 9,942 missiles built over a 12-year production period, she said.
However, the total number of missiles is still being worked in PEO Integration, Paul Mehney, director of Public Communications PEO Integration, told Defense Daily. That number won’t be finalized until the path ahead for the program is determined, which includes results of the recent Flight Limited User Test completed earlier this year.
“It’s too early to begin to commit to a specific number of missiles,” Mehney said.
The missile is at the heart of the NLOS-LS program, a joint Army, Navy program to provide network precision fires organic to a brigade combat team and the Littoral Combat Ship that can engage autonomously against moving and stationary targets. NetFires LLC, a joint venture of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin [LMT] is developing the system.
“A significant difference between our estimate and the government’s current one is that we have incorporated into our estimate some very specific cost reduction initiatives that we’ve already been working on,” she said.
Cost reduction initiatives are commonly placed into many of the company’s missile programs as they move from system development and demonstration (SDD) into low-rate and then full-rate production, she said. “We’re continually trying to drive the cost out of our products and get it to be as affordable as it can.”
The company provided PEO Integration a detailed white paper describing what cost reduction initiatives are and how much they would reduce the price.
The company soon expects feedback from stakeholders at different levels.
During SDD, the missile achieved 12 direct hits out of 17 missile flight tests with “root causes and corrective action known for each of those five misses,” she said. The SDD phase was “pretty successful,” and included software and hardware upgrades.
The Limited User Test missile flights early this year had two direct hits, two misses where the company knows the definitive root cause and two the company is still investigating, she said.
Those tests were conducted by the Army Test and Evaluation Command with support from the Army Future Force Integration Directorate and PEO Integration.
On the two where the root cause is known, the first was an interface issue between the missile and the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).
“We had a software scaling issue in handling one of the parameters that the AFATDS system passed to the missile,” Lohmeier said. “A simple little coding error that we have discovered and already fixed and verified.”
A key lesson learned is that the issue didn’t surface until the LUT because exhaustive end-to-end verification wasn’t done beforehand, she said. Ideally, there are no new interfaces or functionalities added during LUT.
In the second case where the root cause is known, it was a near miss. “We have identified some enhancements that we want to do to what I’ll call our endgame algorithm performance,” she said.
The other two misses are under investigation. It’s taking longer because the tests were all warhead shots so there isn’t the amount of telemetry data for engineers to pore through as there would be the warhead area were instrumented. Engineers do have radar information and radio messages, but it just takes longer to find out what occurred.
“What I find promising, though, is that to date our detailed failure investigation indicates that all our hardware design is solid,” Lohmeier said. “That, to me, is very encouraging and I think it’s going to allow us to move out fairly quickly when we start on the path forward.”
The test results, analysis and path forward are important as an interim Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review is scheduled for April 2 and will feed into production decisions.
Raytheon has been working with Army and Navy officials on a path forward. When that plan becomes final, the Army will share it at the DAB.
“We want to get concurrence on this plan and make sure everybody understands the path forward and that we have the right support,” she said.
NLOS-LS is to be part of Capability Package 11-12 for an Infantry Brigade Combat Team, though it is not part of the Increment 1 effort under Boeing [BA] as prime contractor.