WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has contracted for concept definition and program planning support for the Standard Missile Block IIB Program.
The companies contracted for support are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing.
The MDA said the companies will work with MDA to define and assess viable and affordable missile configurations, conduct trade studies and develop an executable development plan.
The contracts were procured through competition. The value of the contracts is $43.3 million for Lockheed, $42.7 million for Raytheon and $41.1 million for Boeing.
The SM-3 Block IIB is key for the United States to advance missile defense with greater cost-effectiveness in Phase Four of the Phased Adaptive Approach to developing and deploying missile defenses by providing a highly deployable interceptor missile that will destroy threat missiles early in their flight. This early intercept capability greatly reduces the burden on the current missile defense architecture, which destroys threat missiles later in their flight.
Phase Four will be complete by 2020, and will provide an early intercept capability against medium, intermediate and Intercontinental ballistic missiles, MDA said.
In concert with the Ground-based Midcourse Defense capability deployed in Alaska and California for homeland defense, the Phase Four PAA architecture with the high-velocity, land-based SM-3 Block IIB interceptor missile and enhanced command-and-control and sensor network will provide an effective defensive capability for both regional and homeland defense by allowing multiple interceptors opportunities to destroy threat missiles of all ranges in the region from which they were launched.
The SM-3 Block IIB is a hit-to-kill interceptor. It will be launched from the Aegis Ashore weapon system.