Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) just got the green light to begin full-rate production of its new Standard Missile-6.

Raytheon began low-rate initial production of SM-6 missiles for the Navy in February 2011, delivering the first round in February 2013. The company announced that a Defense Acquisition BoardĀ approved the increase in production rates to full speed Wednesday, with the aim of putting the SM-6 into operational deployment later this year, then churning out the missiles at much faster rates by early 2015.

SM-6 is described as a surface-to-air missile that's useful in defending against not only hostile cruise missiles, but also enemy fighter jets, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It can detect and destroy hostile targets over the horizon using both active and semi-active guidance, and borrows technology from Raytheon's more famous Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile -- the AMRAAM.

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