The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded the next phase of the missile defence contract to American technology company L3Harris Technologies.

Under the $121m contract, the company will create space flight hardware.

Through the contract, L3Harris will demonstrate its solution for the MDA’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) programme.

HBTSS is being designed to help provide capabilities such as detection, tracking and discrimination of ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

It will be a part of the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) new architecture that will consist of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).

As one of dozens of new satellites, the HBTSS with medium field of view sensors (MFoV) will provide fire control data to missile defence systems to intercept the threat missiles before they reach their target.

The programme is being developed by MDA and is funded by SDA.

L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems president Ed Zoiss said: “Our near-peer adversaries are making rapid advancements in missile technologies, posing a threat to our forward-deployed forces, allies and nation.

“L3Harris is leveraging our long-standing expertise in infrared remote sensing, advanced processing and communications, in addition to our recent wins in responsive space missions, to enable the Missile Defense Agency to quickly field significantly more capable and cost-effective mission solutions to address these threats.”

In 2019, MDA awarded L3Harris, Raytheon, Leidos and Northrop Grumman a study contract as the prior phase in the HBTSS development programme.

Later in December the same year, MDA awarded contracts to these four companies for the second phase of the HBTSS programme.

In December 2020, the SDA selected L3Harris to build and launch four space vehicles which can detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

Launch of these vehicles is expected next year.