The Air Force will issue a request for proposals (RFP) in a matter of weeks for its next-generation ICBM, known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the Pentagon’s acquisition chief said Wednesday.
“We are on track,” Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told lawmakers during a Senate defense appropriations subcommittee hearing. “It’s [in its] early stages, and the first substantive work will be some risk reduction work and some preliminary design work. We want to get out an RFP— a request for proposals— get those in, and have multiple teams do that first phase. So we’re moving aggressively to make that happen.”
Kendall added that he expected to release an RFP within a couple weeks.
Instead of declaring Milestone A then, he initially intended to wait until after he receives bids from vendors.
“I want to see what the companies are going to offer us in terms of the activities they would do in that phase, so I have considered shifting the milestone A until just before the award of the contracts,” he said.
Before declaring Milestone A, Kendall must receive an independent cost estimate for the system. It would take a month or two for the Cost Analysis and Program Assessment office to do that, leading to a milestone decision in June at earliest, he said.
The Pentagon plans to modernize the three legs of the nuclear triad over the next decade, with development and procurement of the GBSD, Ohio replacement submarine and B-21 long range strike bomber occurring concurrently.
“I think what we have to do on GBSD is look carefully at some cost tradeoffs,” he said. “We have, as you know, the big affordability issue with recapitalizing the entire triad coming up. So as we go through this process, particularly the preliminary stages over the next year or two, we’re going to be looking at ways where we can control cost on the system.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Air Force requested $113 million for the program in its fiscal 2017 request and plans to spend another $3.2 billion over the next five years.
Booster production could begin as early as fiscal 2026, with an integrated flight system coming online two years later.