21:37 GMT10 April 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US Army has awarded a $502 million contract to manage tests of ballistic missiles and missile defense systems over the Pacific to RGNext, a joint venture between Raytheon and General Dynamics, Raytheon announced in a press release on Monday.

    "[RGNext] will operate the US Army's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, safely managing space vehicle and ballistic missile launches and missile defense tests conducted from islands in the 750,000-square-mile Pacific Ocean range", the release said.

    Under the $502 million, 10-year contract, RGNext will maintain the range's launch and safety systems, including radar, telemetry and optical sensors located on the Kwajalein Atoll, the release said.

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    RGNext will also operate the Range Operations Center and Space Operations Center in the state of Alabama, the Kwajalein Mission Control Center on Kwajalein, and the Range Safety Control Center, also on Kwajalein, the release added. RGNext has hired more than 300 engineers, technicians and other launch professionals to support the mission, according to the release.

    According to US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the US defense system could develop faster than the alleged threats emanating form North Korea and Iran. In 2017, the US intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile-class target during the first live-fire test in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The interceptor missile was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

    Moreover, Lockheed Martin has said that the US Air Force has been establishing an advanced radar system in the Marshall Islands to detect thousands of satellites and space debris. The new system reportedly uses S-band ground-based radar and replaces a 1960s-era system used by the US Air Force to monitor satellites and space debris. According to Lockheed Martin, the construction kicked off in February 2015 on the nearly $1.5 billion radar system located on the Kwajalein Atoll.

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    missile tests, contract, Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, RGNext, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, US
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