Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The Defense Department awarded a $47.9 million contract to Raytheon Missile Systems to purchase AGM-65E2/L laser-guided Maverick missiles.
The contract, announced on Friday, calls for the purchase of 469 of the missiles by the U.S. Air Force, with work to be completed by September 2021. Work will be performed at Raytheon's Tucson, Ariz., facility.
The Maverick is an air-to-ground missile designed for close air support and certified for use on over 25 aircraft, including helicopters, fighter planes and attack and patrol aircraft.
More than 69,000 missiles have been produced to date, and more than 6,000 have been used in combat with 93 percent accuracy, a Raytheon statement said. The missiles, over eight feet long, can carry an assortment of warheads, and since they were first introduced in 1972, have been used by 35 countries.
The contract specifies laser-guided missiles, the enhanced version of the Maverick, which offers upgradable software to reduce the risk of collateral damage and a more precise engagement of targets. The Maverick E2/L model incorporates a laser-guided seeker that allows designation by the launch aircraft, another aircraft, or a ground source. It can more easily engage small, fast moving, and maneuvering targets.