BAE gets $484m Army contract

NASHUA – The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $484 million, five-year contract for infrared countermeasures to protect Army aircraft against guided missiles, bringing additional jobs to the area, according to company officials.

BAE expects the program to continue beyond the five years and be more than a $1 billion business for the company, according to Chris Ager, the company’s business development manager for infrared countermeasures.

“It may be the most relevant contract that we have supporting the military today,” Ager said.

The contract, which BAE announced Tuesday, means the company will need more workers.

“We are hiring qualified people in the Nashua area,” Ager said.

Ager said BAE would need engineers to build and test the life-saving systems, which automatically detect incoming missiles and employ countermeasures to confuse enemy missiles. Ager could not give an estimate on the number of new jobs, but said the company will be hiring both internally and externally.

Under the contract, BAE will provide up to 484 Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures/ Common Missile Warning Systems, or ATIRCM/CMWS, over the next five years.

“Basically, every year or whenever the government has funding available, they can just come to us and issue a contract without a long negotiation process,” Ager said. “It’s a tremendous way to do business.” The Army’s plan beyond the five years calls for a total of 1,076 systems, Ager said.

“There’s a lot of upward potential, and we’re just excited to be building these things,” Ager said. The contract was issued Sept. 10 and runs through 2009.

BAE has been working with the Army for several months to work out the details of the contract, according to Ager.

“The Army put out a notice in June that notified all of the industry that the Army intended to do something like this,” he said. Right away, BAE started purchasing materials that take the longest time to procure because the company was confident that it would get the contract, Ager said.

“We felt comfortable enough to take the risk,” Ager said.

Conrad Struckman, program manager for BAE Systems’ Information & Electronic Warfare Systems unit, headquartered in Nashua, said in a written statement that the systems provide “a superior missile warning and directable jamming system to defend Army aircraft against hostile missiles.”

The system has a modular design that allows the Army to field the CMWS portion first, and add the ATIRCM portion later. The CMWS also works with advanced flare dispensers, automatically detecting incoming missiles and employing countermeasures to confuse enemy missiles.

The ATIRCM/CMWS system adds a jamming subsystem for advanced protection of aircraft in addition to the flares.

It works by tracking an incoming missile and steering a beam of modulated jamming energy onto the missile seeker. ATIRCM/CMWS evaluates the threat and selects the appropriate aircraft response to counter a missile – using an array of countermeasures. ATIRCM/CMWS, or CMWS alone, are planned for use aboard fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft.

Ray Pietruszka, Army product manager for infrared countermeasures, said in a prepared statement that the Army is trying to provide aircrews the best possible protection against missile threats.

“This system will get the job done,” Pietruszka said.

The first delivery order was for 50 CMWS systems and is valued at $27.8 million.

The Information and Electronic Warfare Systems, with headquarters in Nashua, is part of BAE North America, which is owned by U.K.-based BAE Systems.