The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) recently awarded Lockheed Martin a follow-on contract potentially worth $515 million to continue development of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, a regional interceptor system now being deployed, according to a March 26 company press release.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver is the prime contractor for the THAAD system, designed to destroy ballistic missiles both in and above the Earth’s atmosphere. The advanced capability development contract is a five-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity award, according to the press release.

An initial task order, valued at $66 million, provides three years of engineering and technical services, according to the press release. Those services include flight test planning, laboratory maintenance, studies and threat assessments.

The MDA’s 2013 budget request for THAAD is $778 million, which is $221 million less than the 2012 appropriation, according to budget documents.

The THAAD system is designed to protect deployed U.S. and allied troops and population centers against short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control of Dallas performs most of the company’s work on the program.