Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin expects four companies to submit bids for the Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI) program that replaces the canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV) program, he told lawmakers March 11.

In response to a line of questioning from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Griffin shared that he expects the department to evaluate four submissions after releasing a request for proposals later this month.

“One of the contractors who will be proposing will be the prior contractor, but there are three other contractors in the competitive procurement phase — for a total of four — that we will be evaluating proposals from,” Griffin said during a hearing before the House Armed Services Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee Wednesday.

Boeing [BA] was the prime contractor for the RKV program, which was canceled last August due to what the department described as “technical design problems.” Raytheon [RTN] was the subcontractor and actual developer of the RKV interceptor.

Boeing confirmed in a Wednesday email to Defense Daily that it plans to compete for the NGI program.

“Boeing has actively responded to all previous Missile Defense Agency’s NGI requests for information,” company spokesman Jerry Drelling said in the statement. “As the [Ground-based Midcourse Defense] prime contractor for almost two decades and the provider of all operational interceptors providing ballistic missile defense of the U.S. homeland, Boeing intends to compete for the Next Generation Interceptor program.”

The NGI program will replace the entire Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) rather than just the kill vehicle, Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said last week at the annual McAleese & Associates Defense Programs Conference (Defense Daily, March 10).

Griffin told Cooper that he expects the NGI program to take about 10 years to reach deployment at a “75-percent confidence level so that I could have some surety that we were not overpromising and underdelivering.”

But requests for information (RFIs) submitted by interested contractors revealed “that some significant shortening of that period is possible,” he added.

“When we have responses to our request for proposal … we will be happy to come and share those with you,” Griffin said. “But in re-planning this program, which we canceled because it was failing technically … I did not want to give you a buy-in estimate. …I didn’t want to be making those kinds of promises.”

Hill previously told Congress that an NGI request for proposals is expected to be released by the end of March, with an award expected by the end of 2020.