Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $1bn contract to continue the development of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Weapon System for the US and allied navies.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin’s Surface-Sea-Based Missile Defence business unit will design, develop, integrate, test, deliver and install further Aegis BMD capabilities as part of the ship-based Aegis Modernisation programme.

Lockheed Martin vice-president and general manager Orlando Carvalho said the company will continue the spiral development of Aegis BMD capability to meet expanding global security threats and increase the number of BMD-capable ships at sea.

The Aegis BMD weapon system consists of a precision SPY-1 radar and integrated command and control system. It has a combat-proven ability to track and engage targets ranging from sea-skimming cruise missiles to ballistic missiles.

In addition, the weapon system integrates with the BMD, receiving track data from and providing track information to other BMD elements.

The US Navy currently operates a total of 19 Aegis BMD-equipped warships capable of engaging ballistic missiles and performing long-range surveillance and tracking missions.

Two more US East Coast-based Aegis-equipped ships are currently being modified to perform ballistic missile defence.