By Geoff Fein

Raytheon [RTN] is currently working on a new offer to the Navy for the company’s Block IV Tomahawk cruise missile, though the new contract will likely not be for a multi-year (MY) buy, a company official said.

The Navy and Raytheon are coming to the end of a five-year multi-year contract. FY ’09 will mark the beginning of a new effort, Harry Schulte, vice president for air warfare systems, told Defense Daily in a recent interview.

"In fact we are just putting the proposal together for that now. It won’t be part of the multi-year," he said. "I think they asked for a FY ’09 price with an option for FY ’10. Both Raytheon and the Navy are interested in another multi-year, and Congress is encouraging us to come up with another multi-year. I don’t know we can do that before FY ’11."

Since Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) 3, which occurred the year prior to the beginning of the last multi-year contract, Raytheon has delivered about 2,200 Tomahawk missiles, Schulte said. "We are finishing them up now."

The company is just entering Full Rate Production 4 and will deliver those missiles over the next 12 months. Raytheon will then enter into LRIP 5 and deliver those missile over the next 12 months after that, Schulte added.

"And then we will be on contract, probably by December of this year, for the FY ’09 buy," he said.

Although the annual delivery rates vary, Schulte said it averages out to about 40 missiles per month.

"The quantities with the Navy are down just a little bit in ’09…they are a little bit smaller," he noted. "We are going to give them a range. In general, we expect them to be down in ’09 and maybe even in FY ’10."

While the company works on the parameters for the next Tomahawk buy, Raytheon and the Navy are also working to give the Block IV an anti-surface warfare capability, Schulte said.

While the Block IV does include a two-way data link to enable operators to retarget the missile or waive it off, adding a surface warfare capability will require Raytheon to install a seeker into the Tomahawk, he said.

"Right now, if you think about it, we are a land attack missile. We are going after fixed targets," Schulte said. "If you are going after a ship you are going after a moving target and so you have to have a data link because you have to give it target updates, and you are going to have to put some kind of seeker into the missile so that eventually it can recognize the target and hit it at the right point."

Adding a seeker, however, won’t dilute the Tomahawk’s capability, he added. "This would be an additional capability the missiles would have."

"It’s clear from our customer they do not want to have specialized missiles. They want the whole suite of missiles to be the same, they want multi-mission capability, but they don’t want specialized missiles," Schulte explained. "So they want all the land attack capability they have now and this capability to go after anti-surface warfare targets."

Raytheon has looked closely enough at this potential, and Schulte believes the company can add a surface warfare capability.

"You’ve got to put some capabilities on Tomahawk to make sure it is survivable," he said. "It looks like a very doable mission…something we can spiral into the current missile without losing any current capability."

Schulte added the missile has quite a bit of room for growth. "It’s a big missile. We’re not packed that tightly in there. We can add some capability pretty easily without having to change too many things, so we are in good shape from a growth standpoint."

Schulte acknowledged there are a lot of challenges in providing Tomahawk with the ability to go after moving ships, least of which are ship defensive systems.

"We are looking at all kind of options right now," he said, adding that if Tomahawk required an anti-jamming capability to conduct anti-surface warfare, it would be considered.

"We are doing some CONOPS that say what kind of capability do you have to have to go after this kind of target," Schulte said. "It’s not clear what is needed yet."

If working on a new contract and designing moving target capability into the cruise missile isn’t enough, Schulte pointed out that this year Raytheon delivered its 1,000th Tomahawk Block IV. "It was a big deal for us to get that many missiles done in four years."

Additionally, the company collected on a delivery incentive to deliver to the Navy 337 missiles within the first five months of 2008.

And Raytheon saw the first operational use of a Tomahawk Block IV, in a less-than strategic manner, Schulte said.

"In this case [the Navy] used a Tomahawk for a GWOT target…a high value target," he said. "They shot some missiles at it…the target was successfully taken out."