Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a $60 million contract modification to transition the latest version of its Standard Missile-3 ballistic missile interceptor into production.

The contract award by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency will fund engineering, analysis and material needed to enable Raytheon to produce two SM-3 Block IIA interceptors per month, according to a Pentagon contract notice.

The work will be performed in Tucson, with expected completion in March 2020 as part of a long-term program now worth $694 million.

The SM-3 Block IIA, co-developed with Japan, is a larger and faster version of the SM-3 missiles that have been deployed aboard ships to protect Europe since 2012.

A Block IIA successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target during a test in February. The missile missed on a similar attempt in June, but the failure was later blamed on human error.

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