Raytheon Co. won a $400 million Pentagon contract this week to move a missile defense radar from the Marshall Islands to the Czech Republic.
So far, the company has only received about $5 million to start planning for the transfer. But more work under the contract could be in train before long -- a Missile Defense Agency spokesman said Thursday that a permission deal with the Czech Republic could come "within weeks."
The U.S. wants to put an X-band radar in the Czech Republic to work with a missile interceptor site in Poland, to defend Europe against attack from Iran. Neither Poland nor the Czech Republic has given final go-ahead, however, and Russia continues to oppose the deal. For its part, the U.S. insists the interceptors would pose no threat to Russia, or even change the current military balance between Russia and Europe.
Raytheon's new award is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract that extends through 2013. The initial task order covers money only for "site surveys, studies, analysis, planning, design, and similar activities," as provided for in the 2008 defense budget. Congress restricted what MDA can spend on the plan until the host countries have given the all-clear.
The X-band radar that will be used in the Czech site comes from the Marshall Islands, where it has been for about a decade. MDA says that radar is no longer needed for U.S. missile defense testing, which has moved away from the Marshall Islands to California and Alaska. So Raytheon will disassemble it, upgrade it and move it to Europe.
Because the radar has already been built, there won't be that many opportunities for local industry. But Raytheon says it's already talking to Czech officials about ways to get local workers involved in the project.
Official announcements of the new contract are expected in coming days from Raytheon and from MDA. The Defense Department announced the deal in one of its daily contract roundups. Earlier this year, Boeing received a similar contract to begin work on its plans for the Polish interceptor site.
-- Rebecca Christie