TOKYO, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Raytheon will supply Evolved Seasparrow Missile components to Mitsubishi Electric Corp. for delivery of the weapon onward to Japan's military.
Funding for the work will be provided by the NATO Seasparrow consortium, which includes the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Turkey.
Belgium and Portugal also are members of the consortium set up more than 40 years ago.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by Denmark, Italy, Norway and the United States to develop and manufacture a naval missile defense system. Other countries have joined but Italy withdrew in 2002.
The two-year direct commercial sale to Japan is one of two ESSM contracts amounting to nearly $213 million in total announced by Raytheon.
The other is with the U.S. Navy NATO Seasparrow Project Office for Raytheon to continue production of the missile up to the end of 2014. The deal includes a $33 million option to continue production after 2014.
As part of its ESSM contracts, Raytheon also supplies spares, containers and test equipment.
"ESSM is the foundation of our allies' anti-ship missile defense," Raytheon Missile Systems ESSM program director Ed Roesly said.
The tail-controlled ESSM is derived from the RIM-7 Seasparrow Missile and used to defend against high-speed, highly maneuverable, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface threats and low-velocity air threats.
Raytheon said it "bridges the capability gap between close-in air defense and local-area defense systems," such as sea-skimming projectiles.
The purchase of the ESSM is part of Japan's missile strategy, which was spurred on in 1999 when North Korea tested its long-range Taep'o-dong 1 ballistic missile.
The Taep'o-dong flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean but Japan began to seek missile agreements in earnest with its allies, in particular the United States.
In December 2004, Japan signed a ballistic missile defense cooperation agreement with the United States. The "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future" is the basis of cooperation, which also allows for the transfer of missile technologies, analysts at Missilethreat.com report.
Japan also may export the ship-launched Standard Missile-3 system, a change from the country's ban on selling arms and weapons. Japan is to receive the first of the missiles in 2018, defense ministry officials said in 2010.
Raytheon's Standard Missile-3 block 2A system is an advanced version of the SM-3 series jointly under development with the United States and other countries.
Raytheon also announced this month that it received a $30.2 million contract from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for continued development of the Stunner interceptor. Stunner is an advanced, multi-mission, multi-platform interceptor designed for integration into current and planned air and missile defense systems.
"The Stunner interceptor redefines the performance/cost value equation for terminal missile defense," said Mike Booen, vice president of Advanced Security and Directed Energy Systems for Raytheon Missile Systems.
"Stunner will provide all weather, hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price."