Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $312 million contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to manufacture 24 Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 1B interceptors, the company announced March 31.

Raytheon has delivered more than 130 SM-3 Block 1A interceptors, which are used by the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system to defeat ballistic missiles. The more advanced SM-3 Block 1B interceptor features a two-color infrared seeker, advanced signal processor and throttleable divert and attitude control system, the press release said.

Raytheon has delivered only one SM-3 Block 1B interceptor to date, which will be fired in a flight test this summer, Wes Kremer, Raytheon’s SM-3 program director, said in an April 1 interview. The 24 new interceptors will be delivered over the next two years and will also be used for flight testing, Kremer said.

The company expects to receive a contract to produce the first batch of SM-3 Block 1B interceptors for operational use in early 2012, Kremer said. The MDA expects to have taken delivery of 223 SM-3 Block 1B interceptors by 2017, budget documents show.