The US Navy has awarded a $9.9m contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a new electronic warfare system for the navy’s surface ships.

Once operational, the system will alert ships to threats, including incoming missiles, and provide information to confuse missiles and prevent them from hitting their targets.

The company will build the navy’s next generation electronic warfare system out of commercially available equipment that is flexible enough to change according to the future navy’s requirements, said spokeswoman Ellen Mitchell.

Lockheed Martin built similar kind of electronic warfare system for submarines have been installed on 39 of the navy’s 55 subs. The contract could grow to $167m if the system is installed on all surface ships.

Work on the preliminary design will be carried out at the company’s facility in Salina town, New York. It is expected to be complete by June 2010.