- August 22, 2008, 10:44 AM
The U.S. Navy is expected to issue a draft request for proposals this quarter for the EP-X intelligence-gathering aircraft, which will replace the EP-3 Aries. In a recent briefing, Boeing revealed that Raytheon was joining its team to bid the P-8 Poseidon for EP-X. The P-8 is derived from the 737 airliner and is already slated to replace the Navy’s aging P-3 Orion ASW aircraft (see “Boeing P-8 Gets Its Wings”). “Clearly, our P-8 work brings leverage to our EP-X bid, and the Navy has already invested over $1 billion in that program,” said Tony Parasida, Boeing’s v-p and general manager for ASW and ISR. He explained that Raytheon will supply ELINT sensors for the bid and will also help with systems integration. Argon Systems is already on the Boeing team, supplying a COMINT sensor. The EP-8 version would carry up to 14 sensor and communications operators, compared with only five on the standard P-8. Boeing’s competitors for the EP-X will likely be Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. All three companies received study contracts worth $1.25 million each last year to help the Navy define the EP-X requirement. Northrop has teamed with L-3 Communications. According to Parasida, the Navy will likely buy about 20 aircraft, even though there are only 12 EP-3 Aries aircraft in current service. The balance will replace the few special measurement and signals intelligence-gathering versions of the P-3 that are operated covertly within the larger P-3 ASW fleet.