WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp has won a contract valued at $784 million to build a new long-range radar that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency considers "critically important" to improving its homeland defense capability, the U.S. Defense Department said on Wednesday.
Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier, beat out Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp to win the contract to design and build the new Long Range Discrimination Radar.
U.S. officials have said the radar, to be placed in Alaska, will expand the ability of the U.S. military to detect and respond to potential missile launches from North Korea.
Lockheed is designing another long-range radar system for the U.S. Air Force called Space Fence that will detect, track, and catalog orbital objects in space more than 1.5 million times a day to predict and prevent space-based collisions.
That system, which uses Gallium Nitride semiconductor materials, passed a critical design review last month, paving the way for the start of construction on Kwajalein Island.
Vice Admiral James Syring told a congressional hearing in March that the new missile defense radar was critically important to provide a consistent ability to track and respond to potential missile launches from North Korea.
“We must have consistent track and elimination capability against that threat," he said at the time. "It’s a must.”
The contract runs through January 2024.
There was no immediate comment from Raytheon or Northrop Grumman on Lockheed winning the contract. Analysts said they expected one or both of the losing bidders to file a protest against the decision.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb and Tom Brown)