Army Awards Boeing Airborne Intelligence Contract

A surveillance system to accurately locate, identify and track surface targets will be developed under the $88.1 million deal.

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The U.S. Army has awarded Boeing an $88.1 million contract to outfit aircraft with a new high-tech intelligence and surveillance system to support combat missions.

The firm won a two-year engineering and manufacturing contract for the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS), a manned airborne system for locating, identifying and tracking surface targets.

The system -- which will be installed on Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 planes -- should be functional day or night in nearly any weather conditions and complete its tasks with a high degree of timeliness and accuracy, according to Boeing.

The initial contract calls for four aircraft, with options to build two more, as well as six low-rate product crafts. Interim contractor logistics support also is an option for the contract, which could go for 42 months if all options are exercised.

EMARSS will feature an electro-optic and infrared full-motion video sensor; a communications intelligence collection system; an aerial precision guidance system; line-of-sight tactical and beyond line-of-sight communications suites; two operator workstations; and a self-protection suite, according to Boeing.

Boeing beat out fellow military contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and L-3 Communications for the contract, which the Army solicited proposals for in June.

EMARSS emerged out of the Lockheed Martin Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) platform, which was developed for the Army and the Navy but never deployed.

ACS was meant to detect troop movements, intercept enemy communications and radar transmissions, and communicate with other aircraft, but the program was canceled in January 2006, due to weight issues with the Embraer aircraft that was chosen as the installation craft.