WASHINGTON D.C.: Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman have won U.S. contracts to develop missiles to intercept hypersonic weapons.
The decision means competitor Lockheed Martin, America's leading defense contractor, has been eliminated from the multibillion dollar program, but could return at a later date.
In November, all three companies were awarded separate contracts to develop an interceptor missile guided by satellites and sensors to destroy an incoming hypersonic missile.
The contract was valued at some $60 million.
The move will reduce the number of companies developing the systems to just two, though Lockheed Martin has the right to appeal the decision.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded a contract of up to $62 million to Raytheon and up to $60 million to Northrup to continue developing anti-hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds five times the speed of sound and can maneuver mid-flight, making them difficult to track.
According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the MDA's internal cost estimates for the new weapons are between $3.7 and $4.2 billion.
The 2023 draft defense budget of the U.S. Congress, which has yet to be finalized, includes funding for the development of the program.