The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded Raytheon Missile Systems a $159.5 million contract extension to continue developing the Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block 2A interceptor, according to a Dec. 8 Defense Department announcement.

The United States and Japan are codeveloping the Block 2A variant of the SM-3 to widen the protective umbrella of the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which currently uses the smaller SM-3 Block 1A missile. The MDA also has plans to deploy land-based versions of the SM-3 in Europe to defend allies and deployed forces from ballistic missile attacks.

The contract extension runs through the end of August 2010, the release said.