The US Missile Defence Agency (MDA) has awarded a contract to Raytheon for the Standard Missile-3 block IIA cooperative development programme.

Under the $175m contract, Raytheon will continue work on the missile programme with Japan.

The contract awarded by the MDA and Japan’s Ministry of Defence will see Raytheon and Mitsubishi develop the next-generation SM-3 block IIA missile, which is scheduled for flight testing in 2014.

The new missile will be equipped with larger second and third-stage rocket motors and a kinetic warhead to provide defence against sophisticated threats.

On completion of the flight test programme, the missiles will be deployed on Aegis ships of both nations in 2018.