Officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, Va., announced a $543.3 million contract modification to the Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., to build, test, and deliver 17 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missiles.
The Standard Missile-3 is a Navy hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense interceptor designed to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It uses an exoatmospheric kill vehicle that crashes into the incoming ballistic missile target during its mid-course phase in space.
The massive collision of the kill vehicle hitting its target obliterates the incoming ballistic missile and its warheads, Raytheon officials say; explosives are not necessary. The resulting impact is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour.
The Standard Missile-3 can be launched from land sites as well as from specially equipped Navy Aegis destroyers and cruisers. The Standard Missile-3 Block IB has an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and upgraded steering and propulsion capability that uses short bursts of precision propulsion to direct the missile toward incoming targets.
Raytheon is developing the next-generation Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, meanwhile, in cooperation with Japan for deployment on land and at sea. It has two distinct new features: larger rocket motors that will enable it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats and a larger kinetic warhead than previous versions.
Raytheon officials say they will begin flight testing the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA this year to keep the program on track for 2018 deployment at sea and on land.
On Tuesday's contract modification Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz., and should be finished by March 2020. The modification brings the contract's total value to $630.4 million, Missile Defense Agency officials say.