Raytheon has won a US$5m contract to begin initial planning and requirements definition for the US radar system planned for the Czech Republic.

The US Missile Defence Agency contract for the European Mid-course Radar programme will see the company assemble and install an existing X-band radar located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The deal is subject to successful negotiation and ratification of the programme by the Czech Republic.

Raytheon says it intends to maximise Czech industry participation in the development and construction of the site and facilities.

The total potential value of the contract is US$400m to 2013, Raytheon says.

The establishment of a the missile defence system, which would detect missiles from Iran heading toward Europe and the US, has been controversial with the Czech Republic and Russia voicing concerns over the proposal.

Russia has yet to agree to the positioning of interceptor missiles in Poland and the radar station in the Czech Republic, saying the US cannot guarantee the weapons will not be used against it.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh