Raytheon Technologies’ company Raytheon Missiles & Defence has been awarded a $867m contract from the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA).

Under this contract, the company will deliver Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptors to the US and its partner nations.

The contract includes the 2021 and 2022 sales for the latest SM-3 variant.

Raytheon’s SM-3 interceptor is a defensive weapon used by the US Navy to destroy short-to intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Raytheon Missiles & Defense Strategic Missile Defense president Tay Fitzgerald said: “The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor was developed in partnership with Japan, and it features a larger rocket motor and kinetic warhead that allow it to defend broader areas from long-range ballistic missile threats.”

Instead of using an explosive warhead, the SM-3 uses sheer force to destroy the targets in space.

The ‘kill vehicle’ of the interceptor hits the target with the force of a 10t truck moving at a speed of 600mph.

According to the company, this technique of hitting the threat is also known as ‘hit-to-kill’ and has been described similar to intercepting a bullet with another bullet.

The kinetic warhead of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor has been enhanced by the company to provide improved discrimination, search, acquisition and tracking functions and to address emerging and advanced threats.

In 2017, the missile intercepted an advanced ballistic missile threat during its first live target test. The third intercept test of SM-3 Block IIA missile was completed in December 2018.

The interceptor is a crucial piece of phased adaptive approach for Europe’s missile defence.

The US Navy ships, deployed off the coast of Europe, have been carrying SM-3 interceptor and is currently operational at a land-based site in Romania to further bolster Europe’s protection.