The two teams competing to develop and produce the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) passed the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) phase ahead of schedule.

Last March, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) selected two teams led by

Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] to conduct initial technology development and risk reduction work for the NGI, which seeks to improve and replace current ground-based interceptors as part of the U.S.-based Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (Defense Daily, March 23).

MDA is pushing to keep the competition operating deeper into the development process, at least through the critical design review, to both reduce risk and keep open the possibility for deciding on a double production line after a single design is ultimately selected.

On Monday, Northrop Grumman and partner Raytheon Technologies [RTX] said it completed the SRR and is moving forward with initial system design, further risk reduction testing and critical component qualification activities.

Northrop Grumman said the SRR is the first major technical review of the companies’ NGI program design and “was completed ahead of schedule.”

“This achievement comes after Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies demonstrated its NGI Common Software Factory, which enables rapid development, integration and delivery in a DevSecOps environment,” the company added.

The partners said they are also using “high-fidelity model-based systems engineering, and hardware manufacturing in customer-certified facilities” and are using internal funding to invest in risk reduction hardware development and testing “to ensure deployment of NGI in the rapid timeline the nation requires.”

They said one example is a recent Raytheon early engineering test of the thruster valve and nozzle on the liquid propellant divert and attitude system (DACS) designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] to reduce risk to the overall technical baseline for the NGI.

“We’re leveraging our two decades of performance on the current Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI). With our combined workforce, extensive expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, we will deliver a highly capable new interceptor that will protect our nation against long-range missile threats for decades to come,” Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager for launch and missile defense systems at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement.

“Our digital system design approach gives us high confidence in our solution going into the preliminary design review,” Tay Fitzgerald, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, added.

This announcement by Northrop Grumman follows a similar one from Lockheed Martin in October that it passed MDA’s SRR only six months after the initial award.

“We’ve invested significantly to accelerate the program to meet this national priority with increased rigor in the systems engineering expected for a capability that is critical for our collective defense,” Sarah Reeves, vice president of the Next Generation Interceptor program at Lockheed Martin, said at the time.

Lockheed Martin said its team used digital engineering and model-based engineering tools for a “modernized” approach to the SRR with new levels of interconnectivity. 

“The digital tools used for the review are also used within the actual NGI program and align with the MDA’s pioneering digital engineering strategy to provide increased trust communications and transparency. This strategy will help the joint MDA and Lockheed Martin team make decisions faster, enhance security, increase affordability and integration,” the company added.