USAF Awards $13 Billion Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Contract to Northrop Grumman

The Department of the Air Force on Tuesday awarded an Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program to Northrop Grumman.

The giant $13.3 billion contract is an investment to enhance the United States’ nuclear deterrence, the USAF said. The ICBM is the cornerstone of American national security policy and fundamental to protect the U.S. and its allies.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper said: “Modernizing the nuclear strategic triad is a top priority of our military. 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.”

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:03 a.m., PDT, April 26, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Minuteman system has been in service for 60 years. Through continuous upgrades, including new production versions, improved targeting systems, and enhanced accuracy, today’s Minuteman system remains state-of-the art and is capable of meeting all modern challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

This program advances the nation’s ability to maintain a robust, flexible, tailorable and responsive strategic nuclear deterrent to meet the current and ever changing global threats.

The GBSD ICBM program will have increased accuracy, enhanced security and improved reliability. This will provide the U.S. with an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options increasing the ability to address the current and future threats.

This program is the follow-on to the aging LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM. This Minuteman first became operational in 1970.

The contract for the GBSD ICBM program is for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the weapon system’s acquisition efforts. The Department of the Air Force is planning to deploy the system beginning in the late 2020s.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is the lead for the Department of the Air Force’s GBSD acquisition effort. The center is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command in direct support of AFGSC.

“Across the Department of the Air Force, we are looking for opportunities to inject innovation into programs to stay ahead of our adversaries, 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,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The strategic ability of the ground-based deterrent enhances strategic stability. It is able to do this by creating an extraordinarily high threshold for a large-scale conventional or nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland. This large investment will protect a vital leg of the nuclear triad, according to officials of the U.S. Strategic Command.

“This contract provides the best overall value to the warfighter and taxpayers. The GBSD program is leveraging technologies to reduce the program’s technical risk and ensure time-certain delivery to meet the warfighter’s needs,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Commander of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems.

“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.”


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