Lockheed to build spy plane network

Lockheed Martin Corp. beat out General Dynamics Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to build the computer network and airframe for a spy plane to be used by the Army and Navy.

The company in Bethesda, Md., today received a five-and-a-half year, $879 million contract to develop and test the Aerial Common Sensor. The aircraft will replace the Army's Guardrail Common Sensor and Airborne Reconnaissance Low and the Navy's EP-3E Aries II aircraft, according to an Aug. 2 Army statement.

Aerial Common Sensor's network-centric communications architecture will combine intelligence data from ground, air and space systems to detect enemy radar, communications and troop movements for commanders, according to the statement.

"Working with our Navy partner toward delivery of the first Aerial Common Sensor systems demonstrates that both services are focused on how we can best serve our national intelligence needs," said Army Lt. Col. Steven Drake, product manager for the Aerial Common Sensor. The Army oversees development of the aircraft.

The Aerial Common Sensor deal precedes the award of the Battle Management Command and Control program contract planned later this month.

The Air Force will issue the $400 million contract to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or Boeing Co. to automate the data processing of enemy targets detected by sensors and radar that can penetrate clouds and trees. The Battle Management Command and Control system will reside on the Air Force's new communications airliner called the E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft.

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