Lockheed Martin Gets License To Market Aegis For Chilean Frigate Program

By John Robinson and Pennington Way IV

Lockheed Martin [LMT] recently received a license from the State Department to market an export version of its Aegis weapon system to Chile, giving the company a boost in its efforts to win the contract for the primary weapons system aboard the countryís Tridente frigate program, according to a company official.

Mark Gaspar, director of international business development for Lockheed Martinís Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems business unit, told Defense Daily on Wednesday in a telephone interview that the company was recently given State Department approval to submit a proposal, which includes technical data, to the Chilean navy for its Aegis system with the SPY-i F radar.

"This was the toughest hurdle to get through," Gaspar said. "This is a big deal."

He said Lockheed Martin had a draft of its proposal already drawn up before the State Department issued the marketing license. The marketing proposal is for four Aegis systems with an option for an additional four in the future.

Gaspar said that Swedenís Saab was Lockheed Martinís main competition for the Tridente weapons and radar system contract. A decision could be made by early June, he added.

A Saab spokesman told Defense Daily yesterday that it has offered a version of its 9LV naval weapons system, but declined to comment further on the radar portion of its proposal.

Lockheed Martin and Spainís Izar last year signed a $1.5 billion contract with Norway to build five Aegis frigates with the SPY-iF radar system (Defense Daily, June 26). Spain purchased four export-versions of the Aegis system in 1997 for its Alvaro de Bazan-class (F-l00) frigates (Defense Daily, July 11).

Tom Baranauskas, a Latin American defense analyst with Forecast International, said the EMPAR 3-dimensional, electronically scanned radar--being developed by Italyís Alenia and Britainís BAE SYSTEMS--could be a primary competitor. The EMPAR system is interoperable with Raytheonís [RTNA/RTNB] SM-2 and Evolved SeaSparrow missiles.

While negotiations for the hull contract have not been completed, the frigate will most likely be variant of MEKO A-200 frigate design by Germanyís Blohm+Voss. It will be about 389 feet in length and capable of traveling 4,604 miles at speeds greater than 33 mph using conventional propulsion.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, United Defense, L.P., and ITT [ITT] are the primary U.S. defense companies interested in bidding on combat systems for the Tridente program, which is worth more than $1 billion (Defense Daily, May 2, 2000).

Raytheon has submitted proposals for the SM-2 Block lIlA Standard air-defense missile, Evolved SeaSparrow, and Rolling Airframe Missiles, and the Phalanx Close-in Weapon System.

United Defense has submitted a proposal for its Mk 45 Mod 4 5-inch, 62-caliber lightweight gun for the frigate program (Defense Daily, April 24).

ITT has said it provided Chileís Tridente program with information about its 3-dimensional SPS-48 radar system.