The US Navy has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to fit surface ships with its future-generation of electronic warfare (EW) systems to improve the navy’s ability to detect threats.

Under the initial $9.9m contract, the company will develop a preliminary design for the surface electronic warfare improvement programme (SEWIP) block 2 upgrade.

The block 2 enhancement is based on the company’s integrated common electronics warfare system, which uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics to provide the latest surface ship EW capabilities and enhanced flexibility.

SEWIP was initiated to provide gradual technological advances and add functional capabilities to the fleet electronic warfare capability.

The contract includes options that, if exercised, would take the value of the contract up to $167m.

The block 2 upgrade is expected to be complete by June 2010.