The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded a contract to BAE Systems to build an advanced seeker for maritime strike applications.

The $12m Phase II contract has been awarded as part of Phase II of AFRL’s Maritime Weapon Innovation Programme (MWIP) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD).

Also referred to as QUICKSINK, the JCTD effort is being funded by the US Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

As part of this contract, BAE Systems will be responsible for the development, integration and evaluation of a new multi-mode (radar/infrared), low-cost, all-weather and open architecture seeker that can be used for defeating maritime targets from an air-launched platform.

In this phase, the company will focus on the maturation of a seeker prototype, which will undergo free-flight capability demonstration against maritime targets.

BAE will use its precision munitions experience, sensor research area expertise and solutions from Phase I of the contract.

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Previously, BAE Systems has worked on other open architecture seeker development programmes, including the Seeker Cost Transformation programme, as well as the development of its Microwave Array Technology for Reconfigurable Integrated Circuit Transceiver.

BAE Systems FAST Labs chief scientist Peter Dusaitis said: “Our new multi-mode modular seeker enables precision identification and engagement of surface targets at great distances over a large area.

“Our seeker technology will greatly increase the warfighter’s capabilities, enabling combatant commanders with a new way to defend against maritime threats in a cost-effective manner.”

Work relating to the QUICKSINK programme will be carried out by BAE Systems’ research and development organisation FAST Labs.

The cost-effective precision-guided seeker will be retrofitted in the existing weapon system to provide semi-autonomous precision targeting of maritime surface vessels.