The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) last week issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the next Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Weapon System (GWS) Program, the first step in reducing Boeing’s [BA] hold on development and sustainment work.

In April the MDA issued the

draft RFP for this solicitation, which seeks a contractor to design, develop, test and field the next GWS Program (Defense Daily, April 21).

GWS is part of an effort to split the current GMD system development and sustainment contract (DSC), held by Boeing for years, into five separate contracts in an effort MDA calls GM Futures.

The new structure would split DSC into separate contracts for GWS, systems integration, test and readiness, and three sole-source contracts for the in-service fleet.

According to the first RFP, issued Oct. 29, this GWS acquisition “will continue to provide warfighter capability to operate the GMD weapon system, develop GWS software and hardware for the current Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) and upcoming Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) fleet (with up to two different initial designs), increase capacity, capability and throughput for messages between communications systems and Kill Vehicles (KV), and update the legacy system to remain effective while NGI is under development.”

The change in DSC structure comes after the Defense Department spent years analyzing the optimal future GMD development, operations, sustainment and production (DOSP) strategy.

Two Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on March 25, 2019, in the first salvo test of an ICBM target. The GBIs successfully intercepted a target launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)
Two Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on March 25, 2019, in the first salvo test of an ICBM target. The GBIs successfully intercepted a target launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

In 2018, DoD decided it would not have the government replace Boeing as prime integrator for GMD after concluding this would add an unacceptable level of risk at the time (Defense Daily Jan. 18, 2018).

To inform that decision, the MDA director used an independent review team of outside experts to evaluate the DOSP strategy and MDA readiness to execute that strategy over fiscal years 2018 to 2022. The team said MDA was not ready to assume the prime integrator role and implement DOSP strategy while also developing incremental capabilities like adding new radars and kill vehicles.

Thereafter, Boeing won a $6.56 billion modification to extend its existing DSC contract for GMD. That more than doubled the total DSC value from $6.1 billion to $12.64 billion total with performance period lasting through 2023 (Defense Daily, Feb. 12, 2018).

Now the MDA is moving ahead with the first section of the plan to split the DSC work into several chunks, which will reduce any guaranteed position for Boeing.

The new solicitation said the GWS acquisition is made of four product areas including GMD Fire Control (GFC), In-Flight Interceptor Communication System (IFICS) Data Terminal (IDT), Ground Support System (GSS) and the GMD Communication Network (GCN). 

GFC Software coordinates threat acquisition, tracks the threats, calculates firing solutions, and allocates and schedules interceptor launches while GFC overall includes an interface with the GMD Operator on console to implement command decisions. Under this contract, the GFC will be upgraded to a next version with redesigned software code using the Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) method, the notice said.

The IDT transmits and receives information from the GFC Node to the GMD interceptor’s kill vehicle. MDA plans to redesign, develop, upgrade and deploy the IDT with Phased Array technology to the Government IDT lab and “operational sites to support flight tests and future operations with increased capacity, capability and throughput for messages.”

The GSS covers the hardware and software that “maintain the interceptor in a state of readiness and prepares the interceptor for launch.” MDA said it will be maintained for the currently fielded weapon system and upgraded to interface with the NGI.

MDA said the GCN is the fire control network for the GMD System. 

“The GCN connects all GMD Components and major Missile Defense System (MDS) interfaces to GFC Nodes at Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center (MDIOC) at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado and Fort Greely, Alaska,” the notice said.

MDA said it intends to outfit a new building with another communication center at Fort Greely “to enhance cybersecurity management and situational monitoring of day-to-day operations.”

The notice also said sustainment support under this contract will include sustainment engineering, off-site maintenance, element level technical support and obsolescence management of GWS software and hardware for the GMD system in support of the missile defense system.

“GWS supports sustainment of the fielded GWS during upgrades and modifications to ensure Weapon System availability” in accordance with warfighter requirements, MDA said.

According to the RFP, MDA intends to competitively award an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract to a single source with a base period of five years and a five-year extension option.

Proposals are due by Jan. 14, 2022. The notice did not disclose when MDA expects to decide on the contract winner.