Boeing has been awarded a $80m contract to begin building the US’s controversial missile defence system in Eastern Europe.

The ten interceptor missiles in Poland and large radar system in the Czech Republic have been dogged by controversy after Russia told the US their presence would spark a cold war-like arms race between the two countries.

US President George Bush first called for the defence systems in 2002, but has faced opposition as Congress cut funding for the project.

Last week the House Appropriation Committee cut $139m from the $310m budget, telling Bush he must convince the committee the system is worthwhile in order to secure the funding.

Boeing will receive the first $5m of the contract to begin drawing floor plans for buildings and planning the necessary infrastructure.

It will receive the rest of the funding between 2008 and 2013, subject to Congress giving the go ahead to the project.