Raytheon [RTN] Dec. 18 said it has started building the 12th AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) a day after a $172.7 million contract award.

An integral element of MDA’s developing Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the AN/TPY-2 is a mobile, rapidly deployable X-band radar that helps defend against the more than 6,300 ballistic missiles that, according to MDA estimates, are not controlled by the United States, NATO, China or Russia.

“Beginning production of a 12th AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar is so important because this X-band sensor is the backbone of U.S. missile defense around the globe,” said Dave Gulla, vice president of Global Integrated Sensors in Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business. “The U.S., our warfighters, allies and security partners can count on the AN/TPY-2 because it has performed flawlessly in every test to date against all categories of ballistic missiles.”

It takes Raytheon approximately 27 months from contract award date to build, test and deliver the AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar, the company said.

The mobile X-band AN/TPY-2 is a high-resolution radar able to provide long-range acquisition, precision track, and discrimination of short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The radar can be deployed globally in either terminal or forward-based mode. In terminal mode, the AN/TPY-2 serves as the search, detect, track, discrimination and fire-control radar for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, enabling the THAAD missile to intercept and destroy threats. In forward-based mode, the AN/TPY-2 cues the BMDS by detecting, discriminating and tracking enemy ballistic missiles in the ascent phase of flight.

The radar has been successful in recent demonstrations. For example, in October 2012, two AN/TPY-2 radars, one terminal and one forward based, participated in MDA’s most complex and largest exercise in a scenario involving multiple targets. Both radars met or exceeded all test objectives.

The previous year, a forward based AN/TPY-2 extended the battlespace by allowing a Standard Missile-3 to launch on remote and intercept a separating intermediate range ballistic missile.

To date, Raytheon has delivered eight AN/TPY-2s to MDA. Some of those radars are currently helping defend the United States and its allies in the European, Pacific and Central Command areas.