US defense & aerospace giant Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $13.3 billion contract by the U.S. Air Force to develop a new generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Weapon System, replacing the current Minuteman-III systems.
The contract, calls for the development of a new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrence (GBSD) system is expected to be completed by February 2029.
According to the Air Force, GBSD “will have increased accuracy, enhanced security, and improved reliability to provide the United States with an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options to address the threats of today and the future.”
“Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Roy, Utah, has been awarded a $13,293,562,839 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for a tested and fully qualified design of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD),” the Department of Defense press release said.
“The GBSD will replace the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Weapon system. This contract will provide for the engineering and manufacturing of the GBSD. Work will be performed in Roy, Utah, and multiple other locations nationwide, and is expected to be completed February 2029. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and one offer was received,” it added.
The Minuteman-III was deployed in the 1970s and the need for a new system with more modern technologies remains apparent as the world moves to the third decade of the 21st century. Minuteman systems are manufactured by Boeing, which has raised up issues to the awarded contract.
According to reports, Boeing contended that they did not have enough time to negotiate a competitive price for the motors needed for the GBSD program due to Northrop’s slow pace in signing an agreement that would allow Boeing to work with NGIS while firewalling Boeing’s intellectual property away from its rival GBSD team. However, the Air Force declined to alter its acquisition strategy.
However, the same day when the contract was announced on 8th September, Boeing said in a statement that the company “supports the U.S. Air Force and its efforts to modernize the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force. We remain ready and willing to assist in the modernization of our land-based strategic deterrent.”
The GBSD systems comprise of intercontinental ballistic missiles and its launch control systems. These missiles are supposed to complement America’s nuclear arsenal, representing the land leg of the nuclear triad.