Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to head up development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system. The $13.3 billion contract covers the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program. The company won after their rival for the contract, Boeing, dropped out of the bid.
The program will span 8.5 years and include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification. Upon successful completion of the EMD, the Northrop Grumman-led consortium will begin producing and delivering the new weapon system to meet the Air Force schedule of initial operational capability by 2029. Expected to be fully operational by 2036, the GBSD is projected to form the ground-based element of America’s nuclear triad until 2075.
Speaking of the new missile development program, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper said that:
“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.”
The GBSD ICBM is the follow-on to the aging LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM that first became operational in 1970. The GBSD ICBM will have increased accuracy, enhanced security and improved reliability over Minuteman to provide the U.S. with an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options.
The Northrop Grumman GBSD team includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT Global, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3 Harris, Lockheed Martin and Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the U.S.