The Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency have reached an agreement to collaborate on the development of a next-generation ballistic missile interceptor, a senior industry executive said recently.

Edward Miyashiro, vice president and deputy general manager of Raytheon [RTN] Missile Systems, said service and agency leaders signed a memorandum of agreement to explore design and development of the Network Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE) earlier this month.

Raytheon has been developing the NCADE system for a number of years, according to Miyashiro, with program officials conducting a successful shootdown of a ballistic missile target with an early version of the weapon in 2009.

The system itself would be a hybrid of the company’s two most successful missile systems–the Air Force’s AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and the Air Force and Navy’s AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.

While the weapon is still in the concept development phase, recent difficulties with the AMRAAM and its surface-launched variant would have no impact on the potential way ahead for the NACDE effort, Miyashiro said.

The surface-launched variant, known as the SLAMRAAM, under development for the Army was one of the programs canceled by Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this year as part of a department-wide cost efficiencies initiative.

However, Miyashiro said those setbacks would have no impact on the potential way ahead for the NACDE effort. Currently, the company is seeking additional DoD dollars for NCADE development, Miyashiro said during a March 16 briefing at the company’s offices in Arlington, Va.