Raytheon To Order Parts for 29 SM-3 Block 1B Interceptors

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WASHINGTON — Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., will begin ordering long-lead components for 29 Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1B interceptors under a $126 million contract modification awarded by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Pentagon announced June 21.

The award follows a successful SM-3 Block 1B intercept test May 15 that the MDA said would inform a production decision on the sea-based interceptor, a more advanced version of the Raytheon-built SM-3 Block 1A currently operational aboard U.S. Navy ships. The modification brings the total value of the contract to $179.4 million, the Pentagon said.

Full-scale production of the SM-3 Block 1B, featuring a two-color seeker and a throttleable divert and attitude control system — these components track and propel the interceptor’s kinetic kill vehicle to its target, respectively — had been delayed by problems in developmental testing. The MDA was criticized for moving the system into production prematurely following a September 2011 test failure.

The May 15 test, in which the SM-3 Block 1B destroyed a separating short-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean, was the third consecutive successful intercept test of the system. The U.S. Government Accountability Office had recommended deferring full-scale production pending three straight successful intercept tests. 

The target date for completing work under the contract modification is Sept. 30, 2016, the Pentagon said.