WASHINGTON — Boeing has won a contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to integrate, test and ensure the readiness of the homeland missile defense system, which is designed to protect against intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to an Aug. 31 company statement.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system deployed roughly 20 years ago. Modernization of the system is critical as threats to the homeland continue to evolve.
There are 44 Ground-Based Interceptors in silos buried underground at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The system also includes ground control stations, detection and fire control systems, and other support infrastructure.
Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, had hinted at the upcoming contract to Defense News during a recent interview at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium this month.
Boeing has held the development and sustainment contract for the GMD system, which is set to expire in 2023. But MDA said it wanted to split up the contract in order to inject competition and thus drive innovation amid system modernization efforts.
“I will tell you that our lead system integrator does a great job today and the partnerships with industry within that construct do a great job, but we think that it’s so large and complex we should be doing everybody a favor by being able to split that up without losing the integration among all those pieces. So our intent is to move in that direction,” Hill said in 2020 when he announced the plan to hold a competition that would divide up the work needed for GMD modernization and sustainment.
A request for information released that year laid out a plan to split up the contract into separate pieces. One contractor would provide the Next Generation Interceptor, a weapon addressed through a separate request for proposals. Another business would be responsible for legacy and future ground systems, and yet another for sustaining existing GBIs.
A company would also operate the weapon system along with military operators as well as run fleet maintenance scheduling and deconfliction, site operations, test support, and depot and parts management, the RFI explained.
Lastly, a contractor would serve as the weapon systems integrator, making it responsible for overall GMD integration “including physical and logical integration of the GMD components, GMD system and MDA enterprise level integration, planning and execution of all necessary testing to verify and validate overall requirements compliance,” the RFI stated.
“Boeing’s proposal offered decades of experience in weapon systems integration, anchored by the unique expertise of our people,” Cindy Gruensfelder, Boeing’s missile and weapon systems vice president and general manager, said in the company statement.
Work on the system integration, test and readiness contract will mostly take place at Boeing’s site in Huntsville, Alabama.
MDA awarded Northrop Grumman earlier this month the contract to integrate and manage the ground weapon systems within GMD, potentially worth more than $3 billion. The firm will provide design, development, verification, deployment and sustainment support of new capabilities for the GMD Weapon System program, the company said in an Aug. 1 statement.
Meanwhile, a Northrop and Raytheon Technologies team is competing against a Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne team to replace the GMD’s Ground-Based Interceptors with Next Generation Interceptors.
The teams will each need to pass through a preliminary design review in fiscal 2023 before moving forward. The critical design review will come roughly a year after that.
The aim is to field the NGI by 2028, but industry members have indicated they think they can go faster.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.