The U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF) awarded a $13.3 billion Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program to Northrop Grumman on Sept. 8.
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC), the lead for the DAF’s GBSD acquisition effort, announced that the effort will span 8.5 years and include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification.
Upon successful completion of EMD, the Northrop Grumman team will begin producing and delivering a modern and fully integrated weapon system to meet the Air Force schedule of initial operational capability (IOC) by 2029.
According to an Air Force statement, the contract award of $13.3 billion is “an investment in enhancing the United States’ nuclear deterrence, as it is the cornerstone of national security policy and fundamental in continued protection for the U.S. and its allies”. The program advances the nation’s ability to maintain a robust, flexible, tailorable and responsive strategic nuclear deterrent to meet current and changing global threats.
The GBSD ICBM is the follow-on to the aging LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM and first became operational in 1970. The new ICBM will have increased accuracy, enhanced security and improved reliability to provide the U.S. with an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options to address the threats of today and the future.
The dispersed basing of the ground-based deterrent enhances strategic stability by creating an extraordinarily high threshold for a large-scale conventional or nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland. This investment will protect a vital leg of the nuclear triad, according to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) officials.
The EMD award follows a highly successful three-year technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase-one effort by Northrop Grumman under the GBSD competition. The company said in a statement that the team demonstrated innovation and agility by applying a digital engineering approach and has achieved all TMRR design review milestones on time and on cost.
Work on the program will be performed at the Northrop Grumman GBSD facilities in Roy and Promontory, Utah, as well as other key Northrop Grumman sites across the U.S. that include Huntsville and Montgomery, Alabama; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Bellevue, Nebraska; San Diego and Woodland Hills, California; Chandler, Arizona; Annapolis Junction, Maryland; and at our nationwide team locations across the country.
The Northrop Grumman GBSD team includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT Global, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries.
“Modernizing the nuclear strategic triad is a top priority of our military,” said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper. “It’s key to our nation’s defense. It provides that strategic nuclear deterrent that we depend on day after day – that we’ve depended on decade after decade.”
“I am fully confident in the evolutionary warfighting effectiveness GBSD will ensure,” said Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). “We are leveraging stable requirements, modern technology, we own the technical baseline, and have a modular design to keep the program rapid, relevant and affordable. The increased accuracy, extended range and improved reliability will provide the United States a broader array of options to address unforeseen contingencies, giving us the edge necessary to compete and win against any adversary.”
“Across the Department of the Air Force, we are looking for opportunities to inject innovation into programs to stay ahead of our adversaries,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. “Our GBSD team is doing just that by leveraging a modular open system approach to ensure our next generation ICBM system is adaptable to challenges posed by the pace of technological advancements and new threat environments.”
“This contract provides the best overall value to the warfighter and taxpayers,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems and commander of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center which is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) in direct support of AFGSC. “The GBSD program is leveraging technologies to reduce the program’s technical risk and ensure time-certain delivery to meet the warfighter’s needs. Its acquisition strategy focuses on mature technologies, smart commonality, modular designs and maintaining the Air Force’s ability to leverage competition throughout the weapon system’s lifecycle to ensure it will effectively adapt to evolving environments.”
“Our nation is facing a rapidly evolving threat environment and protecting our citizens with a modern strategic deterrent capability has never been more critical,” said Kathy Warden, chairman, chief executive officer and president, Northrop Grumman. “With more than 65 years of technical leadership on every ICBM system, our nationwide team is honored and committed to continuing our partnership with the U.S. Air Force to deliver a safe, secure and effective system that will contribute to global stability for years to come.”