The US Navy (USN) has awarded Raytheon a $190 million (€171 million) contract for low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2, featuring a new guidance system with a dual mode active and semi-active radar.

This award follows the Navy's decision to shift from development to production on the enhanced intermediate-range, surface-to-air missile, placing the Block 2 variant on track for initial operating capability in 2020.

The ESSM missile is the primary ship self-defence missile aboard Navy aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious assault ships. It is also an integral component of the USN layered area and ship self-defence capability for cruisers and destroyers.

"ESSM plays a critical role in protecting navy sailors worldwide and our international partners share our commitment to evolve this missile," commented Raytheon Strategic and Naval Systems Vice President, Dr Mitch Stevison.

ESSM is the foundation of several allied navies' anti-ship missile defence efforts and is operational on almost 200 naval platforms worldwide. The programme is a cooperative effort, managed by a NATO-led consortium comprising 12 nations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United State.

The new guidance system for the ESSM Block 2 features dual mode active and semi-active radar. (Photo via Raytheon)

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