updated 5/24/2005 9:10:35 AM ET 2005-05-24T13:10:35

The U.S. Navy has awarded Raytheon Co. a $3 billion contract to develop radar, electronic and weapons systems for a new class of destroyers envisioned as the high-tech future of the U.S. fleet.

The award, one of the largest ever won by the Waltham-based defense contractor, is a follow-on contract for work already awarded by the Navy to Raytheon for the DD(X) destroyer program. Much of the work on the program is being done in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and in Tewksbury, said Dan Smith, the president of Raytheon's integrated defense systems unit in Tewksbury.

Smith said the contract, which runs through 2009, will take the program from development through production. But he said it is too soon to tell if new jobs will be created as a result, or where.

Raytheon will develop systems for the new destroyers that improve on existing technology. Those include radar, sonar, the ships' computing network and external communications network and missile launchers. The company is also integrating the systems to make sure they work together.

The Navy had sought to award production of the destroyer to a single shipbuilder — the General Dynamics shipyard in Bath, Maine, or the Northrup Grumman yard in Pascagoula, Miss. — in a winner-take-all bidding process. But Congress vetoed that approach in favor of sharing the work.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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