Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is teaming up with the world’s second-biggest space technology company to bid for a major role in

NATO’s nascent missile-defense program.

Raytheon said Monday it signed an agreement for the project with Astrium, an aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

The companies plan to compete for the role as lead system engineers and integrators for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Ballistic Missile Defense Program.

The NATO contract is expected to run seven years, with an estimated value of $91 million, Raytheon said. The winning bidder also would have a leg up on future contracts to develop and produce key components of the system.

The NATO plan ties together missile-defense systems of the U.S. and other NATO allies with command and control centers operated by NATO. The U.S. has deployed Raytheon’s Standard Missile-3 interceptors aboard ships as part of the first phase of a planned U.S-led missile defense of Europe, with plans for land-based interceptors in Romania and Poland.

In 2012, NATO announced an “interim” operational capability for missile defense with a command and control system tested and installed at NATO Headquarters Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. NATO also oversees an advanced Raytheon radar system hosted by Turkey.

George Mavko, Raytheon Missile Systems’ director of European missile defense, cited Astrium’s more than 30 years’ of experience in ballistic missile development and production, ballistic battle analysis and threat modeling.

Together with Raytheon’s decades of experience in ballistic missile defense interceptors, radars and space sensors, “this partnership will provide Europe the best, most affordable missile defense protection,” Mavko said.

Astrium has been involved with the NATO missile defense planning since 2001 and in 2011 won a NATO contract to define the initial system architecture.

Among other U.S. companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are widely expected to compete for the NATO contract.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at dwichner@azstarnet.com or 573-4181.