Raytheon has received a $49.5m contract from the US Navy for the production of an improved version of laser-guided Maverick missiles.

The navy is also considering exercising a contract option for the procurement of additional AGM-65E2/L missiles, bringing the overall value of the contract to $54.9m.

In January 2012, the navy completed developmental and operational testing of the new version.

"The navy has an operational need for increasing its inventory of this lethal and combat proven weapon."

US Navy Direct and Time Sensitive Weapons programme office (PMA-242) programme manager captain Albert Mousseau Jr said: "The navy has an operational need for increasing its inventory of this lethal and combat proven weapon.

"Enhanced Laser Maverick enables warfighters to engage today’s fast-moving, agile targets."

The Maverick weapon system, which is a US Air Force-led joint service programme, is a forward-firing, precision-guided, close-air support missile, which can attack a wide range of fixed, stationary, moving and manoeuvring land and sea targets.

The new improved Laser Maverick missile integrates a digital laser seeker and software to reduce the collateral damage risk, which can be upgraded based on customer requirements.

The missile also comes with an ability to accurately deploy land and sea-based high-speed moving targets.

Furthermore, the missile features advanced flight algorithms to enhance performance in a range of operational situations, in addition to a proven compatibility with existing F/A-18, AV-8B, F-16 and A-10C operational flight programme integration.

Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Mike Jarrett said: "The enhanced Laser Maverick provides the US warfighter with even greater capabilities that will meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats.

"This is the latest step for this impressive weapon as we continue to work to ensure that future requirements are met."

Defence Technology