Raytheon has received a $523m contract from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to produce, test and deliver Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptors.

Under the order, which follows after MDA exercised a fiscal 2016 contract option, Raytheon will supply 47 SM-3 interceptors for operational testing and deployment.

The latest award is part of a $2.35bn contract for SM-3 missiles, which was awarded to the company last year.

"Standard Missile-3 plays a critical role in the missile defence of the US and its allies."

Raytheon Missile Systems president Dr Taylor Lawrence said: "Standard Missile-3 plays a critical role in the missile defence of the US and its allies.

"SM-3's sophisticated capability to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in space, and its flexibility to deploy from land or from sea make it invaluable as the centrepiece of the President's Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defence in Europe."

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Work under the contract will be carried out at Raytheon's Space Factory in Tucson, Arizona, and integration will be performed at the company’s integration facility in Huntsville, Alabama, US.

The SM-3 guided missiles are used by the US Navy to protect the country against short-to-intermediate-range ballistic missile threats.

Termed as a hit-to-kill missile interceptor, the SM-3 is designed to destroy incoming ballistic missile threats in space, with an impact equivalent of a 10t truck travelling at 600mph.

The SM-3 Block IB variant of the missile features an enhanced two-colour infrared seeker, and upgraded steering and propulsion capabilies to propel the missile towards incoming targets.

The Block IB variant became operational in 2014, while the next-generation SM-3 Block IIA is currently under development and can be deployed both on land and at sea.

Raytheon has delivered more than 270 SM-3s to date.

Image: Launch of a SM-3 missile. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.