The Missile Defense Agency on June 24 awarded both Raytheon Technologies [RTX] and

Northrop Grumman [NOC] $31 million modifications to have both companies further develop and refine concept work on hypersonic defense systems.

Last year, MDA awarded Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin [LMT] contracts worth $19 million to $21 million each to further develop and refine their concept designs for a hypersonic missile defense interceptor (Defense Daily, Nov. 22, 2021).

At the time, MDA Sea-based Weapon Systems Program Executive Rear Adm. Tom Druggan said awarding multiple contracts allows the agency to reduce risk, explore industry concepts and maximize benefits of a competitive environment “maximize the benefits of a competitive environment to demonstrate the most effective and reliable Glide Phase Interceptor for regional hypersonic defense, as soon as possible.”

Earlier in 2021, MDA said it changed plans to develop a counter-hypersonic missile defense program by redirecting the Regional Glide Phase Weapon System (RGPWS) to a nearer-term initiative called the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI), while longer term capabilities are worked on separately (Defense Daily, Feb. 4, 2021).

MDA expects GPI to be developed in phases that deliver increased capabilities over time. The initial fielding phase is planned for the mid-to-late 2020s.

Regardless of which vendor is chosen, MDA said the prototype interceptors are expected to fit into the current Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, fired from standard Vertical Launch System cells on Navy Aegis missile defense destroyers while integrated with a modified Baseline 9 Aegis Weapon System.

According to the Defense Department announcement, under the newest modifications Raytheon and Northrop Grumman will “continue to further develop and refine their concept leading to a system requirements review – prototype (SRR-P).” The modification covers work performance from late June 27 through Feb. 15, 2023.

The modifications raise the total value of the contracts to $62.5 million for Raytheon and $60.4 million for Northrop Grumman.