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Raytheon missile can loiter, uses parts of existing weapons

In an effort to change the way business is done in the defense industry, Raytheon Missle Systems in Tucson is developing a new missile with different capabilities but using the parts and technology from a variety of its other weapons.

The new missile passed its first test late last year, the company announced yesterday.

The Multi-Purpose Loitering Missile will give troops on the ground instant access to missile-sized firepower, said Bruce DeWitt, director of precision engagement at Raytheon.

The missile can be fired from a ship and programmed to loiter over ground troops, much “like being in a holding pattern over the Dallas airport,” he said. It then can be redirected from the ground to hit a target much more quickly than a missile fired at that point from miles away.

While the concept of a “loitering” missile is interesting, the most unusual aspect of the new program at Raytheon is the use of existing parts and technologies to create a new weapon, DeWitt said. That kind of weapon development dramatically cuts the cost of a new system, he added.

The first test, in December, simply checked how well the missile could be launched and whether it could maintain its stability.

Next: Making sure the system is integrated into the weaponry and communications systems already in place, which should take the rest of this year, DeWitt estimated.

Long term: This kind of program could dramatically cut the cost of developing new weapon systems, DeWitt said. The weapon system also could provide longer term employment opportunities for current Raytheon employees here, said spokeswoman Sara Hammond.

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