Raytheon, Boeing share missile contract worth $7 billion

Raytheon Co. in Tucson and Chicago-based Boeing Co. were awarded a joint missile contract Monday that could be worth up to $7 billion for the two companies. It could be one of the biggest awards ever for the Tucson missile maker, increasing job security for the company's nearly 9,000 employees.

"It's huge for us," said John Nelson, a Raytheon spokesman.

"This is the missile contract for the next 20 years."

The initial $125 million pact calls for the partnership to develop and launch over the next 27 months three prototype missiles that can be fired from helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned air drones.

After development, the companies expect to eventually sell thousands of the new missiles to the U.S. military, which is looking to replace the TOW, Hellfire and Maverick missiles used by the Army, Marine Corps and Navy. The TOW and Maverick missiles are built by Raytheon.

The so-called joint air-to-ground missile, or JAGM, contract followed a $220.5 million Navy pact awarded to Raytheon on Friday for ship-based missiles used for defense against incoming enemy rockets.

The JAGM is scheduled to be in service by 2016 and carried on six diverse aircraft, including the Apache Longbow helicopter, built by Boeing in Mesa. Other aircraft scheduled to carry the new missiles are Bell's armed-reconnaissance helicopter and Super Cobra, Boeing's Super Hornet, Sikorsky's Seahawk, and General Atomics' Warrior unmanned aerial vehicle.

Boeing's experience integrating weapons systems into the aircraft it builds made it a natural partner.

Because the missile is being integrated with a wide range of platforms, the JAGM will have to perform in a wide variety of environments, from the heavy vibration, dust and heat of helicopter operations in the desert, to the extreme cold and aerodynamic loads associated with fast jets.

"Our goal is to deliver an affordable, reliable system that can be integrated into the program's six required aircraft," John Weinzettle, Raytheon's JAGM program director, said in a statement.

Raytheon Missile Systems, southern Arizona's biggest private employer, is the world's largest missile builder.

It is a unit of Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co.

[Source: By Max Jarman, The Arizona Republic, 23Sep08]

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