Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., won a $175 million contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue developing the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 2A interceptor in cooperation with Japan, Raytheon announced Sept. 27.

Raytheon’s current-generation SM-3 missile, known as Block 1A, is deployed on U.S. Navy Aegis ships and is the centerpiece for the initial phase of a planned European missile shield. Raytheon will soon begin flight testing of the SM-3 Block 1B, which is identical in size to the current interceptor but features a more advanced seeker and throttleable divert and attitude control system.

The SM-3 Block 2A interceptor is scheduled to begin flight testing in 2014 and will feature a more energetic booster with a wider diameter, at 53 centimeters, than the current SM-3. Raytheon’s new contract funds continued development through preliminary design review, currently scheduled for early 2011, the press release said. The contract also includes a $9.8 million option to conduct additional studies.