The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., a $218 million contract modification to begin production on 29 Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1B interceptors, the Pentagon announced Aug. 7.

“The three back-to-back successful SM-3 Block 1B flight tests have demonstrated the missile’s advanced capabilities and reliability against various threats in a variety of mission scenarios,” Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said in a statement Aug. 8.  

The change increases the contract value from $179 million to $398 million. The money will be used to finish building 29 of the sea-based interceptors. 

In June the MDA authorized Raytheon to begin ordering long-lead components for the same group of SM-3 Block 1B interceptors. That modification was valued at $126 million.

Full-scale production of the SM-3 Block 1B 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, and some lawmakers have pushed the MDA to adopt a “fly before you buy” purchasing philosophy.