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Raytheon to build Naval Strike Missile in Tucson

Working with a Norwegian company, defense contractor Raytheon will assemble anti-ship missiles for the Navy's littoral combat vessels, such as the USS Gabrielle Giffords, in what could be an $850 million deal.

Raytheon will work with Norway-based Kongsberg Gruppen, the company that developed the weapon, and manufacture parts at the company's plant in Louisville, Ky., and assemble them at its facility on Tucson's South Side.

The missiles, capable of over-the-horizon strikes of more than 100 miles, have been deployed by the navies of Norway, Poland and Malaysia for about five years. Raytheon was awarded a $14.8 million contract to being join production, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The two companies inked a deal to co-produce the missiles last year, leading up to Pima County's announcement of $16 million in incentives for the contractor, which has been in the process of adding about 2,000 jobs here over the next half-decade. The county and Pima Association of Governments have invested about $33 million in the company's expansion here.

Contract options could increase the Naval Strike Missile deal to $847.6 million over the next several years, the Pentagon said.

The missiles will be deployed on the U.S. Navy's littoral combat vessels, a new class of ship that includes the one named for Tucson's former congresswoman, which was commissioned in 2017.

LCVs are a class of ships designed for combat that can maneuver close to shore for mine, anti-submarine and surface warfare. The Giffords features many automated systems, allowing for a crew that is significantly smaller than the 300-sailor average of most Navy surface combat ships. 3,200-ton Giffords has a beam of 103 feet and a draft of just 15 feet, and is armed with an 11-cell SeaRAM missile system, a BAE Systems Mark 110 57-mm turret-mounted gun, and four .50-cal. machine guns, as well as optional special mission modules.

The missiles are also planned to be deployed on guided-missile frigates.

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The weapons use "advanced seeker and target-identification technology," the company said.

"Raytheon and Kongsberg are providing the Navy with a proven, off-the-shelf solution that exceeds requirements for the over-the-horizon mission," said Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. "Because it is operational now, NSM saves the United States billions of dollars in development costs and creates new high-tech jobs in this country."

Raytheon has also been ramping up production of the Standard Missile-3 and SM-6 interceptors.

Raytheon reported that it had about 9,600 workers in Tucson last yeaer. In 2009, about 12,140 were employed by the company here. In early 2013, Raytheon reported 10,300 local workers.

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U.S. Navy

A test of the Kongsberg/Raytheon Naval Strike Missile in 2014.