Tucson-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense was awarded an $867 million Missile Defense Agency contract to produce the latest ship-based ballistic missile interceptor to the U.S Navy and partner Japan.
Work under the contract for the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA which comes as North Korea continues its provocative missile-testing program will be performed in Tucson and in Huntsville, Alabama, for expected completion by the end of 2026, according to a Pentagon contract notice.
Co-developed with Japan, the SM-3 Block IIA is part of the mainly ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system and is designed to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
The new missile which costs more than $35 million per copy according to MDA budget documents is being acquired alongside the shorter-range SM-3 Block IB, which is deployed aboard U.S. and Japanese Aegis-equipped ships.
The SM-3 Block IIA features a larger rocket motor and hit-to-kill kinetic warhead that allow it to defend broader areas from long-range ballistic missile threats, said Tay Fitzgerald, Raytheon president of strategic missile defense.
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Our strong cooperation with Japanese industry was essential to the development of this next-generation solution that can defeat complex threats around the world from sea and land, Fitzgerald said in a Raytheon announcement.
The interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy targets in space, with a kill vehiclewith the force of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour, Raytheon says.
The SM-3 Block IIA interceptors kinetic warhead has been enhanced, improving the search, discrimination, acquisition and tracking functions, to address advanced and emerging threats, the company said.
The SM-3 Block IIA missile intercepted an advanced ballistic missile threat in its first live target test in 2017. The missile has had two failures in six flight tests since 2017 and successfully intercepteda longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile target during a test in November 2020.