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Raytheon’s Kim Ernzen, Vice President Air Warfare Systems Discusses the Naval Strike Missile & What’s Next « Breaking Defense

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Q: The Naval Strike Missile is a new addition that will add firepower to the US Navy’s surface fleet. What is Raytheon’s role with the system?

Raytheon Missile Systems is providing the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) to the U.S. Navy through a partnership with Norway’s defense leader Kongsberg, which designed the missile for the country’s frigates and patrol ships that defend the coastline. Our companies recognized that NSM could immediately answer the Navy’s need for an “over the horizon” weapon and offered it as a ready-now solution – no development work or investment needed. Raytheon and Kongsberg teams worked with the Navy on an accelerated effort to add the missile to one of its first littoral combat ships, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, last year. Raytheon is also establishing a supply chain and production system of the missile here in the U.S. that brings jobs and work to several states. 

Q: NSM has certainly been generating a lot of buzz this year with the deployment on the USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10). 

It really has been a whirlwind year for the NSM program. Raytheon was awarded the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System contract in May of 2018, and by September of 2019 the Navy announced it was on board for the maiden voyage of LCS 10. Our team is especially proud of how we worked with the Navy and Kongsberg to accelerate that effort – we were able to integrate, train and certify the crews, and deploy and test the missile one year ahead of the original schedule. The Navy was looking for a solution that was available right away; one that would help realize its vision that every ship is able to fight. NSM has aptly answered those requirements.  We also announced an agreement in April with the USMC to integrate NSM into its force structure; the same month the U.S. State Department approved a potential foreign military sale for NSM on MH-60R helicopters.  That means land, sea and air mission potential for this system. 

Q: The missile is one of the partnerships Raytheon has with Norway’s Kongsberg, correct?

Yes – we actually first entered into a partnership with Kongsberg in 2014 for the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), a system that has evolved from NSM and is designed specifically to fit inside the internal weapons bay of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. We renewed the JSM partnership last fall and are working to bring that missile to the F-35 community. Our NSM partnership followed in 2015, and timing was ideal to pursue what became the Over-the-Horizon Weapon System competition. But the companies have worked together for over 50 years on systems like NASAMS. 

Q: What’s next for NSM?

It’s sure to be another busy year – and probably decade – for the NSM team. We will continue to work closely with the Navy to integrate on additional LCS hulls. We are also getting a great deal of interest from around the globe for NSM for surface ships and ground launch, and we are beginning to explore the air launched possibilities for the MH-60R helicopter. I was at the Surface Navy Symposium in Washington D.C. recently and Rear Admiral Gene Black, the Navy’s Surface Warfare director, underscored the importance of NSM. He said it will be key for expanding combat capabilities and offensive lethality as the surface force moves toward the future. Raytheon is absolutely committed to supporting these efforts and our warfighters. 


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Kim Ernzen is vice president of the Air Warfare Systems product line at Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) in Tucson Arizona. As vice president, Kim oversees a product line that includes the AIM-9X® short-range missile, AMRAAM® air-to-air-missile, Griffen® precision air-to-ground missile, HARM®anti-radiation missile, JSOW® standoff weapon, MALD® decoy and jammer, Maverick® precision attack missile, Paveway® laser guided bomb, StormBreaker® bomb and Tomahawk long-range stand-off weapon. Prior to her current role, Ernzen served as vice president of the Land Warfare Systems product line, also within RMS, as well as vice president of RMS Operations. 
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