The Navy has awarded its latest building contracts as part of its ongoing effort to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities and military modernization.
The US Navy awarded American aerospace and defense giant Raytheon Technologies a $234 million contract to build and deliver the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) last week, March 22.
Raytheon is set to work on the production in Norway, Germany, and various locations in the US, and it is expected to be completed by March 2027.
What is the Over the Horizon Weapons System?
As defined by the Navy in its fiscal year 2020 program fact sheet, the “OTH-WS program is a long-range, surface-to-surface warfare system intended to engage maritime targets inside and beyond the radar horizon.” It consists of the following components: an “operator interface console, Naval Strike Missile (NSM), and the Missile Launching System.”
This NSM is an offensive missile featuring a high-resolution imaging infrared seeker and anti-surface warfare semi-armor-piercing payload.
Moreover, it is a state-of-the-art designed to strike “heavily protected” enemy naval targets from up to 100 nautical miles (115 miles), with a secondary land attack role. Aside from the US, this anti-ship and land-attack missile is also being used in Norway and Poland, with future use in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Latvia. Meanwhile, India, Indonesia, and Ukraine showed interest in the NSM, potentially procuring the system soon.
Going back, the OTH-WS is a stand-alone system that requires “minimal integration into the host platform,” programmed to “receive targeting data via tactical communications from combatant platforms or airborne sensors, and requires no guidance after launch.”
Once delivered, the Navy intends to employ the weapon system in its littoral combat ships (LCS), guided-missile frigates, future FFG(X) vessels, and amphibious transport dock (also known as landing platform dock, or LPD)-class ships.
Currently, the service branch has outfitted the missiles into five Independence-class LCS, including USS Oakland (LCS-24), USS Jackson (LCS-6), USS Charleston (LCS-18), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), and USS Tulsa (LCS-16).
In 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that a collaborative team between Raytheon and Kongsberg Gruppen, a Norway-based aerospace company, will be working on the OTH-WS program with a contract worth over $847.61 million.
DoD’s Biggest Spending Yet
On March 13, DoD unveiled the President’s defense budget request for FY 2024, amounting to $842 billion—the biggest investment yet further to expand the readiness and procurement capabilities of the country.
“The FY 2024 budget is the most strategy-driven request we’ve ever produced from the Department of Defense. And as our National Defense Strategy makes clear, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is our pacing challenge,” said Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense, in a statement regarding the FY24 budget.
“This budget seeks to meet this critical challenge today, tomorrow, and into the future by providing the resources today to continue to implement our National Defense Strategy and keep our nation safe while delivering a combat-credible Joint Force that is the most lethal, resilient, agile, and responsive in the world,” he added.
The Navy requested about $255.8 billion in spending allocation, increasing its previous FY enacted budget of $11.1 billion or 4.5 percent.
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According to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, the defense spending of the service branch will primarily prioritize “strengthening maritime dominance, building a culture of warfighting excellence, and enhancing strategic partnerships.”
Likewise include modernizing and maintaining fleets, as well as pouring resources into research and development and weapon programs, increasing capacity and retaining highly skilled laborers, and raising pay for military and civilian personnel.
In addition, the service is set to procure nine more battle force ships with the requested budget, including “one Columbia-class submarine, two Virginia-class submarines, two-Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, two Constellation-class guided-missile frigates, one John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oiler, and one submarine tender.”
Meanwhile, a reduction of eleven ships will also take place, “eight of which are before their end-of-service life: two littoral combat ships (LCS), three cruisers (CG), and three dock landing ships (LSD).”
A budget of $17.3 billion has also been set aside for the procurement of 88 aircraft, including:
- 35 F-35s
- 26 Multi-Engine Training System
- 15 CH-53K
- 5 MQ-9A
- 3 MQ-25
- 2 MQ-4, and
- 2 KC-130Js
As well as modification, spares, and support equipment, completing the acquisition of KC-130J, MQ-4C, and MQ-9A in FY24.
Aside from beefing up its defensive capabilities, Congress and the current administration are concerned about a possibly prolonged war in Ukraine and potential future conflicts with Russia and China.
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