The competition is on for the Aegis 16 upgrade program, meant to provide more open architecture and greater capability for the vaunted ship-shield and combat system.

Aegis incumbent Lockheed Martin — as well as upstarts Raytheon and Boeing — all acknowledged Dec. 14 that they submitted their bids for the work, a day ahead of the request for proposals (RFP) deadline.

Each company touts its direct or indirect experience. “During the four decades that Lockheed Martin has partnered with the Navy as the Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent, the team has evolved the system 15 times to outpace a wide array of dynamic and evolving threats,” Lockheed says in a statement.

Aegis-equipped ships are multimission surface combatants that can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines and surface ships while automatically implementing defenses to protect the fleet against aircraft and missiles. Some foreign navies that use Aegis include Australia, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Spain.

One hundred Aegis-equipped ships are in service around the globe. They have more than 1,200 years of at-sea operational experience and have launched more than “3,800 missiles in tests and real-world operations,” Lockheed notes.

The Aegis upgrades are not only meant to enhance the systems on existing destroyers and cruisers, but also anchor the missile shields for the future DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers, although many analysts now say those Flight III ships will prove to be unaffordable under the current plan.

While Lockheed’s name has become synonymous with Aegis, Raytheon officials are quick to point out they supply the system’s fire control and other components.

“We have offered innovative approaches to pace the wide range of emerging threats facing our Navy,” Raytheon says in a statement about its Aegis 16 bid.

A relative outsider, Boeing promises “fresh, innovative solutions” for “next evolution of the Aegis Weapon System,” according to Boeing Network & Space Systems President Roger Krone. “We are prepared to support the Navy’s goal of affordably enhancing the system’s capabilities to meet future threats and challenges.”