Boeing [BA] said Thursday it is teaming up with General Atomics and Aerojet Rocketdyne

[AJRD] in its bid for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

Boeing also said Northrop Grumman [NOC] will serve as a component supplier on the Boeing-led team.

Ground-based Midcourse Defense System Ground Based Interceptor
(Photo: Defense Department)

The Missile Defense Agency’s NGI program will replace the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) that the Defense Department canceled last year due to significant technical issues causing schedule and cost increases (Defense Daily, Aug. 21).

Boeing was previously the prime contractor on RKV working with Raytheon Technologies [RTX] as a subcontractor to develop the specific interceptor.

Whereas the RKV planned to improve and replace the kill vehicle in the GMD Ground Based Interceptor (GBI), NGI will replace the kill vehicle and the rocket booster lifting it to the edge of space. The GMD missile defense system is based in Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

A July Government Accountability Office report said both MDA and the contractors were warned multiple times over the years about the risks and issues with RKV before the Pentagon ended up canceling it (Defense Daily, July 23).

This time around, Raytheon is partnering with Northrop Grumman on their own bid (Defense Daily, May 4).

Lockheed Martin [LMT] also put in a bid on NGI, with an announcement in August (Defense Daily, Aug. 4).

Earlier this year, Boeing confirmed it would participate in the NGI competition in March (Defense Daily, March 11).

Then, last month, the company said it submitted into offer to MDA in line with the due date. At the time, Boeing said it was combining its decades track record with a “best-of-industry team” to ensure the NGI is delivered on time (Defense Daily, Aug. 12).

“The Boeing-led team will deliver critical technology to enhance our homeland missile defense. Combined, we bring decades of expertise in proven missile and weapon systems,” Norm Tew, Boeing Missile and Weapon Systems vice president and general manager, and Huntsville site senior executive said in a statement Thursday.

Scott Forney, president of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS), argued they will help deliver new ideas and ways of thinking in an NGI.

“An effective NGI solution requires a new way of thinking supported by a proven ability to deliver pioneering solutions. We are excited to partner with Boeing to deliver the disruptive technologies needed to help MDA rapidly deploy an interceptor system that bolsters the nation’s missile defense network and ensures that the U.S., our allies, and partner nations maintain military overmatch against ever evolving threats from adversaries,” Forney said in a separate statement.

Tew added that GA’s history in complex systems “makes them an ideal teammate to help us take our Next Generation Interceptor design to new heights.”

The companies said if their bid wins, they plan to use the GA-EMS enterprise capabilities nation-wide.

“GA-EMS is a nimble, vertically integrated organization that can innovate and provide affordable technological and manufacturing solutions. We have significant experience in designing missile defense technology, hypersonic weapons, space systems, and in manufacturing complex systems at scale for critical DoD programs, and ensuring we deliver products on time, that perform as required, and are right the first time,” Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS, added.

Aerojet Rocketdyne aims to provide the propulsion system to the NGI bid, with a company official noting they have powered U.S. missile defense systems for decades.

“As the country’s premier hit-to-kill propulsion provider, we’re able to deliver low-cost, high-performance systems by leveraging our skilled workforce and strategic investments in innovative technology and materials,” Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president, said.

A Missile Defense Agency Ground-Based Interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as part of Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor (FTG)-15. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

Aerojet Rocketdyne currently supplies the liquid propellant Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) that maneuvers the existing GBI exo-atmospheric kill vehicle. It also provides the Alternate Propellant Tank that addresses producibility, material obsolescence, and cost over the incumbent design as well as the next generation Alternate Divert Thruster to address platform stability, reliability, and cost concerns.

Aerojet previously worked on a DACS for the canceled RKV.

The company works in several other areas of missile defense motors and rockets including supplying the MK 72 booster and Mk 104 dual-thrust rocket motor in variants on the Standard Missile used in Aegis missile defense; the solid rocket booster motor powering the interceptor and DACS system for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system; and provides the solid propulsion for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles as well as PAC-3 Cost Reduction Initiative and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement propulsion segments.

MDA released the NGI Request for Proposals in April with the intent of awarding two contracts for simultaneous development of NGI options through at least the critical design period. Later in the development, the agency plans to downselect to one design (Defense Daily, April 24).

MDA expects the total cost of designing, developing and fielding the total planned 20 NGIs to be over $11 billion. Testing is expected to start in 2025-26 and interceptors could start being placed n silos as soon as 2027-28.

In March, former Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin told a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing he expected NGI to take about 10 years to reach deployment at a “75 percent confidence level.” However, he also noted the RFIs submitted by interested bidders found “some significant shortening of that period is possible.”