Northrop Grumman [NOC] tapped Bechtel National

and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions to provide construction services and specialized transportation equipment for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile program the aerospace giant hopes to win this summer.

Northrop Grumman is the only bidder for the estimated $25 billion engineering and manufacturing development contract to build and deploy GBSD missiles. Boeing [BA], the only other eligible bidder, pulled out of the competition in July. GBSD is the planned successor for the 1970s-vintage Minuteman III missiles that Boeing primed, and which make up the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.

On the Northrop Grumman team, Bechtel will provide “launch system design, construction and integration” for GBSD, while Kratos would provide “other vehicle transporters including the missile transporters and payload transporter,” according to Northrop Grumman’s press release.

The Air Force plans to buy more than 600 GBSD missiles, including spares and test missiles, and deploy 400 of them starting in 2030 or so to replace Minuteman III at a one-for-one rate.

GBSD will use W87-1 warheads provided by the civilian National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the Department of Energy.

The Air Force plans to award the GBSD engineering and manufacturing development contract between July and September of this year, according to the service’s 2021 budget request. Boeing has reserved its right to protest both the competition, or a future award.

Boeing wanted the Air Force to combine its bid for GBSD with Northrop Grumman’s, but the service has so far declined to do that, suggesting instead that there will be GBSD modernization and maintenance work for which Boeing could qualify. 

Boeing has said the Air Force’s GBSD competition gave Northrop Grumman an unfair advantage, because the company owns its own solid-rocket motor business: the former Orbital ATK.