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Raytheon's New Aerial Minesweeping Weapon Wins $18 Million Defense Contract

The Department of Defense awarded nine separate defense contracts Tuesday, worth $1.04 billion in total. Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) didn't win the biggest of these awards. But the contract modification awarded to its Integrated Defense Systems subsidiary was arguably one of the more interesting deals announced Tuesday.

Valued at $17.7 million, Raytheon's contract modification instructs the defense contractor to fabricate, assemble, test, and deliver to the U.S. Navy three low-rate initial production versions of the Airborne Mine Neutralization System, or AMNS. Raytheon will also provide engineering services and support for the devices through May 2016.

AMNS is designed to "explosively neutralize bottom and moored mines using an expendable mine neutralize device." The so-called "neutralizer" element of the system is basically a torpedo equipped with sonar, underwater lights, and a video camera, which seeks out and kamikazes itself into targeted mines. The Navy describes it as being "negatively buoyant," and having "six degrees of motion." The neutralizer can be operated manually, or can seek out targets automatically. It is designed to be deployed by Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, themselves launched from Littoral Combat Ships equipped for minesweeping missions.

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