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Raytheon will begin low-rate initial production of Standard Missile-6 systems under a $368m contract awarded by the US Navy.

Under the three-year contract, the company will also supply spare parts as well as system and design engineering services for the missiles.

Raytheon Air and Missile Defence Systems vice-president Frank Wyatt said that low-rate initial production began the process of delivering the integral weapon system to the warfighter.

“Standard Missile-6 is in development testing now and will go into operational testing in fiscal year 2011, with initial operational capability by March 2011,” he said.

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“SM-6 is capable of over-the-horizon air defence and takes full advantage of the kinematics available to the Standard Missile family, allowing the use of both active and semiactive modes and advanced fusing techniques.”

The missile system operates against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-ship cruise missiles.

The first set of missiles under the low-rate initial production is expected to be delivered in early 2011.