WASHINGTON —  The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., a $156 million sole-source contract to buy the materials it needs to build eight Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1B interceptors, according to a Jan. 9 announcement from the Pentagon.

MDA budget documents indicate that the agency plans to buy 52 SM-3 Block 1B missiles in 2014 and 72 in each of the following four years. 

However, because the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that funds activities at 2013 levels, the award is for a limited number of missiles, said Heather Uberuaga, a Raytheon spokeswoman. Once a full budget for 2014 is approved, Raytheon expects the MDA to award the remainder of the contract.

In October, the MDA announced its intent to award Raytheon a sole-source contract worth as much as $3 billion for SM-3 Block 1B production. The news came shortly after a test that MDA officials described as the Block 1B’s fifth consecutive success.

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Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...