The Air Force shifted its competition for new intercontinental ballistic missiles to the next stage on July 16, issuing a solicitation for the weapon system’s first five manufacturing lots.
The contract for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent’s engineering, manufacturing, and development section is expected to be awarded in the fourth quarter in 2020. The Air Force will select a single winner from the two corporations — Boeing and Northrop Grumman — at present involved in this system’s technology maturation and risk reduction section.
Though the details of the solicitation are categorized, the Air Force plans to award the GBSD contract to the company that gives “the best overall worth,” said Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, the Air Force project executive officer for strategic programs and commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, which is heading the procurement. Which means proposals will take into account functionality as well as cost.
Morris added, “The GBSD will be modeled to be adaptable and responsive to the difficulties posed by the pace of technological change and new threat environments.”
GBSD will replace the Minuteman III ICBMs, which were fielded in the Sixties and have gone by only minimal upgrades over their five decades of use. Fielding a follow-on functionality is a significant priority of the Defense Division, with its acquisition executive Ellen Lord stating in May that there’s “no margin” to do one other service life extension for the Minuteman III.
The Air Force hopes to see GBSD come online in the mid-2020s.
In August 2017, the service granted a $349 million deal to Boeing and $328 million to Northrop to update their designs and cut risk, reducing Lockheed Martin from the competition.