Lockheed Martin is protesting this month’s award of the U.S. Navy’s air-and-missile-defense radar (AMDR) contract to Raytheon.

The decision to protest the contract award was made “after careful consideration,” Lockheed spokesman Keith Little said Oct. 22. “We submitted a technically compliant solution at a very affordable price. We do not believe the merits of our offering were properly considered during the evaluation process.”

Raytheon stands behind its proposal. “We remain confident in our proposed solution and we’re eager to move forward and deliver this much needed AMDR capability to the Navy,” company spokeswoman Carolyn Beaudry says. “We’ll trust the process and will work closely with our customer to mitigate any resulting delays once resolved.”

While AMDR is a new radar program being especially developed to bolster ballistic missile defense (BMD), Lockheed is considered by many to be the incumbent thanks to its position as the prime contractor for the Aegis combat system, which is now being deployed and further developed for BMD missions.

However, the Navy’s seemingly transparent approach to conducting the AMDR competition, which attracted Northrop Grumman as well as Lockheed and Raytheon, led many to conclude that a protest was unlikely.

Nonetheless, the competition was regarded as a tight one, with each contracting team offering technology, experience and innovations that would make the Navy’s decision difficult.

Northrop and Navy officials could not be reached for comment about the protest.

The program is an important one. AMDR is the Navy’s next-generation integrated air and missile defense radar and is being designed to be carried aboard Flight III Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers beginning in 2016. It is the backbone for future BMD operations.

The Navy this month awarded Raytheon a $385.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for AMDR engineering and manufacturing development efforts. Fiscal 2013 funding of about $157 million will be obligated now.

The contract includes options for procurement of up to nine radars that may be exercised following Milestone C, planned for fiscal year 2017. The options, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to $1.6 billion.

Under the contract, Raytheon will build, integrate and test the AMDR S-band and Radar Suite Controller (RSC) engineering development models. For the ship sets covered under the contract, the AMDR suite will integrate with the existing AN/SPQ-9B X-band radar.

The base contract begins with design work leading to preliminary design review and culminates with system acceptance of the AMDR-S and RSC engineering development models at the end of testing at the Advanced Radar Detection Laboratory, Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kekaha, Hawaii.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the AMDR total price tag will be about $5.8 billion, compared to the $15.2 billion projected last year.