Raytheon Company has won a $543m production and delivery contract for up to 17 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptors.

Awarded by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors will be used for operational testing and initial deployment.

Raytheon Air & Missile Defense vice-president Dr Mitch Stevison said: "SM-3 Block IIA plays a pivotal role in Phase III of the European Phased Adaptive Approach through its proven technology and adaptability to an evolving security environment.

"The MDA and the Japan Ministry of Defense have developed a 21in diameter SM-3 missile that can be launched from ground stations or ships."

"SM-3 Block IIA remains on schedule for both land and sea deployment in 2018, enabling a greater degree of protection than ever before for our US deployed forces and Nato allies."

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Work under the contract will be carried out at the company’s facilities in Tucson, Arizona; Huntsville, Alabama; Andover, Massachusetts; and Goleta, California.

Developed under the SM-3 co-operative project, the MDA and the Japan Ministry of Defense have developed a 21in diameter SM-3 missile that can be launched from ground stations or ships to combat with medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The SM-3 Block IIA missile has been designed as part of phase two of the current administration’s phased adaptive approach for missile defence, to provide increased engagement capability and greater range.

Featuring larger rocket motors and a more capable kill vehicle, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor expands the range and capability from the current SM-3 Block IA and IB interceptors.

The missile enables more mission flexibility on both Japanese and US Aegis ships, and provides faster speeds and greater range, protecting larger regions of land.