MBDA has secured a £300m contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to design and build the new variant of advanced short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM).
The new development is aimed at allowing the UK Royal Air Force to sustain this key air-to-air missile capability for its Typhoon jets.
The eight-year contract will see the updated sub-systems being integrated to the current ASRAAM design.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "ASRAAM missiles provide our Typhoon jets with battle-winning technology on combat missions, and these upgrades will help to make it a missile for the future, ready for use on our new Lightning II aircraft.
"This contract is part of our £160bn equipment plan, supported by a rising Defence budget."
This next-generation infrared-guided missile is designed to provide enhanced aerial combat capabilities for fighter aircraft.
It can be deployed to engage targets within visual range (WVR) combat operations and offers high-speed and exceptional agility during its flight time.
In addition, the missile is capable of engaging targets under complex environmental conditions and is compatible with aircraft armed with Sidewinder or AMRAAM missiles.
UK MoD Defence Equipment and Support organisation Chief of Materiel (Air) air marshal Simon Bollom said: "Sustainment of the UK’s short range air-to-air capability is essential as it supports standing operational commitments such as the protection of UK airspace and any other air defence roles."
Currently, the missile is in-service on Typhoon and Tornado GR4 aircraft and will be integrated onto the Lightning II platform after delivery of the first aircraft.
The new contract is expected to sustain approximately 200 highly skilled technology jobs across MBDA sites in Bristol, Stevenage, Hertfordshire and Lostock, Lancashire and the UK-based supply chain.
Image: The advanced short range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM). Photo: © Crown copyright.