Raytheon has awarded a contract to BAE Systems Australia for continued production of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) components.

The latest contract brings the total value of ESSM business for BAE to over $370m.

Developed under a collaborative programme and the Nato Sea Sparrow consortium, including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Turkey, the missile is designed to protect warships against anti-ship cruise missiles.

The ESSM is a developed version of the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missile and is used to defend high-speed, highly manoeuvrable anti-ship cruise missiles, surface threats and low-velocity air threats. It also bridges the capability gap between close-in air defence and local-area defence systems.

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ESSM is a medium-range, all-weather, semi-active radar-guided missile that also features a state-of-the art fuse that maximises lethality against threats and can be launched without any prelaunch warm-up.

In addition to the enhanced firepower, the missile offers increased performance against smaller, sea-skimming targets, while also being capable of combating threats posed by current and next-generation anti-ship missiles.

Features of the tail-controlled missile include transformational anti-ship missile defence capabilities and upgraded seeker sensitivity, while increased propulsion and weapon accuracy provides greater speed and agility to counter threats.

The missile is integrated with a new rocket motor and warhead, guidance upgrades and a faster missile with an improved payload and range.

BAE has developed the enhanced guidance mode algorithms to provide a local area defence capability for the ESSM and supported the integration of the ESSM system into Australia’s ANZAC class frigates.

The flight control and guidance elements of the missile have been designed, developed and manufactured by ADI, Hawker De Havilland and other members of the Australian Industry Defence Network (AIDN).

BAE will continue ESSM components production work in Australia until the end of 2014 while the ESSM Block II is expected to reach initial operational capability by 2020.