WASHINGTON Raytheon Co (RTN.N) has won a contract worth $243 million to build 89 new Standard Missile-6 interceptors for the U.S. Navy, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The U.S. Defense Department said the contract would run through March 2016.
Raytheon's new SM-6 missile uses the airframe and propulsion of its legacy Standard Missiles, but adds the advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of its Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).
When used on Navy cruisers and destroyers, the new missiles will give military commanders the ability for the first time to intercept targets that are beyond the line of sight, or beyond the horizon. The missiles will be part of the Navy's sea-based missile defense, providing defensive capability against ballistic missiles in their terminal phase of flight.
Raytheon has delivered more than 50 SM-6 interceptors to the Navy under low-rate production contracts. This marks the first full-rate production contract for the new weapon.
Senior Pentagon officials approved full-rate production of SM-6 missiles at a high-level Defense Acquisition Board meeting in May. The missiles defend against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned planes, and cruise missiles.
Last month, the U.S. Navy fired two SM-6 interceptors from the USS Chancellorsville, a guided missile cruiser, successfully destroying two cruise missile targets in the missile's first over-the-horizon test scenario at sea.
The program is preparing for ship qualification trials on the USS Chancellorsville in November, and the weapons system is expected to be approved for initial operational use by the Navy later this year.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Richard Chang)