Defense contractor Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) announced in a press statement Wednesday that it has received a $56.6 million U.S. Army contract, awarded in December, to produce its line of precision-guided artillery projectiles, the Excalibur Increment Ib. Receiving the contract marks the start of low-rate initial production for the line.

The Excalibur line uses GPS guidance to accurately target and fire 155-mm extended-range projectiles. Options for the Army's contract extend through FY 2016, with possible additional quantities for production to meet Army guidelines, sales, and requirements. Deliveries are expected to begin by the last quarter of this year.

Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Army programs, Michelle Lohmeier, commented on the program in the release, saying, "The threats are constantly changing, and the way we counter them must also evolve and change... Excalibur Ib's design flexibility will allow software changes and capability improvements in response to future warfighter needs."