WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded Saab a nearly $17 million contract for its Sea Giraffe agile multibeam, multimode radar for its new offshore patrol cutter, or OPC, gearing up for construction starting next year.

The $16.8 million contract will be for two systems. The Sea Giraffe AMB is the same radar the U.S. Navy uses on its Independence-class littoral combat ships.

Sea Giraffe is a surface and air search, electronically scanned phased array radar.

In September, the Coast Guard inked a $41.68 million contract with the Florida-based Eastern Shipbuilding Group for long lead time materials for the first OPC, the cutter Argus. Eastern is the lead contractor building the OPCs.

Argus is scheduled to start construction in late 2018 and should deliver to the Coast Guard in 2021. In August, the Coast Guard announced the names of the first 11 OPCs.

The OPC is planned as the Coast Guard’s midrange cutter, between the 418-foot National Security Cutter and the 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship is slated to be 360 feet long, 54 feet wide and have a draft of 17 feet. The OPC will have a top speed of 22.5 knots, according to the Coast Guard’s website.

The ship has a range of 8,500+ nautical miles and can spend up to 60 days at sea at a time, according to the Coast Guard.

The Navy is providing the radar system as government-furnished equipment under a program that maintains some commonality between U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships. In a wartime scenario, the Coast Guard could be rolled into the U.S. Navy as a supplementary force.

“These multi-mode radars are part of the OPC combat weapon systems and, as such, are Navy Type Navy Owned (NTNO) Government Furnished equipment provided to us (CG) as part of the joint requirements between us and the Navy,” said Lt. JG Emma Lutton, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The Coast Guard is planning an initial phase of nine of the ships to be built at the Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding, a total potential contract of about $2.38 billion, according to a July press release from the builder.

In total, the service is aiming for 25 of the OPCs.

It’s capable of carrying either an MH-60R Jayhawk or an MH-65 Dolphin, as well as three over-the-horizon small boats.

The service is also moving quickly to design and build a new class of icebreaker. In September, the Coast Guard’s number two officer told the Defense News conference that the last heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, needs to be retired by 2023.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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