Lockheed Martin Wins Next-Generation Interceptor Contract for GMD Upgrade

The US is developing a next-generation interceptor for its multi-billion dollar missile defense system after scrapping a previous attempt.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The goal of the ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) program, which was first referred to as “National Missile Defense” until 2002, is to defend the territory of the United States of America against ballistic missiles. The program was initiated in the 1990s.

The total cost of this “missile defense shield” has been over $40 billion so far. The system is a network of different radar models – Sea-based X-band Radar, AN/TPY-2, and PAVE PAWS – that are provided by Raytheon, the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system that was developed by Northrop Grumman, and ground-based interceptor (GBI) missiles that Orbital ATK produced. These missiles are deployed at Fort Greely (Alaska) and Vandenberg Air Force Base (California). 

Raytheon, managed by Boeing, was responsible for developing the “collision element” for the GBI missile, which was referred to as EKV CE-II (Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Capability Enhancement II). This element was designed to kill a target through the impact.

Despite this, the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) started the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program, which was handed to Boeing, with Raytheon as the primary subcontractor. This was done since the MDA had seen nearly as many failures as successes during the testing phase. This initiative is intended to be implemented by the year 2025. Following an investment of $1.2 billion in the project, the Pentagon decided to terminate it, citing “insurmountable technical design flaws” and the possibility that the cost would become “prohibitive.” 

A “next-generation interceptor” (NGI) was to be developed and manufactured, and the MDA invited ideas for its development and production a few months later. In March 2021, the MDA announced that it had pre-selected two contractors. These firms were Northrop Grumman, which was teamed with Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, which was partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne. In addition, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems was involved in the discussion. This company had previously approached Boeing but declined their offer.

The two chosen contractors must carry out a preliminary design assessment, which will then be followed by a critical design review that is anticipated to run for two years. After this, the Pentagon’s decision was expected.

As the first of these two phases came to a close, the MDA sped up the process by immediately awarding Lockheed Martin the contract for the development and integration of the NGI. At the very latest, the objective is to attain the first operating capability by the time the fiscal year 2028 comes to a close. 

According to the explanation supplied by the Pentagon, the choice made by the MDA is based on the following factors: the level of technological maturity, the objective performance data provided by the contractor, the level of technical rigor in the development process, and the incorporation of early testing into the program.

As General Heath Collins, the director of the MDA, emphasized, the MDA is very confident in its decision to partner with Lockheed Martin and its plans to develop and deploy a next-generation interceptor that will meet the operational needs of USNORTHCOM and be ready for deployment in 2028.

The company Lockheed Martin, for its part, has stated that it is “proud to partner with MDA on a groundbreaking interceptor that will advance U.S. security.” The organization is dedicated to delivering dependable interceptors that may easily be integrated into the GMD system and can swiftly adapt to counteract threats.

A contract with a minimum value of seventeen billion dollars could be awarded to Lockheed Martin.

In addition, on April 12th, the company secured an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to modernize the C2BMC system. This deal has the potential to be worth up to $4.1 billion over ten years, provided that MDA implements all of its available options.


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