The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Hopper successfully conducted two developmental flight tests of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B Threat Upgrade guided missile on May 25 and 26 off the west coast of Hawaii. Credit: MDA.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Missile Defense Agency exercised a contract option with Raytheon worth $523 million to build 47 Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1B interceptors, according to an Aug. 2 announcement from the Pentagon.

The option is part of Raytheon $2.3 billion contract awarded in 2015 for the production of 52 interceptors. That contract includes production options for 2016, 2017 and 2018 for Raytheon to build as many as 52 interceptors each year. The U.S. Navy uses the missile against short to intermediate range ballistic missile threats.

“Standard Missile-3 plays a critical role in the missile defense of the U.S. and its allies,” Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon Missile Systems president, said in an Aug. 3 press release. “SM-3’s sophisticated capability to destroy enemy ballistic missiles in space, and its flexibility to deploy from land or from sea make it invaluable as the centerpiece of the President’s Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe.”

The SM-3 Block 1B, an upgraded version of the Block 1A missile, was declared operational in 2014.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.