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SEPTEMBER 2020

U.S. To Fast-Track Development of Next Generation Interceptor For Anti-Ballistic Missiles

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U.S. To Fast-Track Development of Next Generation Interceptor For Anti-Ballistic Missiles

Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle. Click to see full-size image

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on April 24th, 2020 published a request for proposals for the industry to create a promising Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI).

The NGI solicitation allows contractors 90 days to provide proposals to the Government beginning May 1st 2020 and calls for proposal receipt of July 31st 2020.

As Departmental guidance changes, adjustments for COVID-19 may occur based on Real World Events.

A virtual Industry Day for the NGI took place on November 26t, 2019. The invited companies were Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon.

At the deadline, the plan is to award contracts to two companies. n the draft US defense budget for fiscal year 2021, $664.1 million was allocated for the program, and $4.9 billion is planned for five years.

MDA chief Vice Adm. Jon Hill said in March 2020 that he wants to field the new system as soon as possible, and a timeline of 2030, is “unacceptable from a warfighter view” and “unacceptable to me as a program manager.”

But it’s unclear when a system will be ready for testing. “We want to deliver the first round as soon as possible,” Hill continued. “That also means we can’t take shortcuts in the design or in the requirements or in the flight testing regime, because if you want to go save time that is what most programs will do, so we can’t afford that, but I will tell you that timeline will be driven by who we award to.”

Currently, there are 44 deployed GBI missiles deployed at missile defense facilities in Vandenburg, California, and Fort Greeley, Alaska. The two locations have respectively four and forty missiles.

In 2019, the MDA requested an allocation of 20 more GBI missile defense deployments at Fort Greeley in Alaska by the end of 2023.

Currently, the GBI missiles are equipped with warheads EKV series kinetic interceptors. EKV stands for Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle manufactured by Raytheon Corporation, modifications of the EKV CE-I/CE-II/CE-II Block 1.

To deploy the 20 GBI anti-ballistic missiles planned for deployment, and then replace the EKV interceptors, with a program that was launched in 2010 to create the new kinetic interceptor – Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV).

The RKV program was part of an ambitious technology effort helmed by Boeing — though Raytheon was building the Kill Vehicles — to replace the current Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle.

Both are ground-based interceptors designed to defend the US against long-range ballistic missile attacks. The companies won’t have to pay back any of the billion-plus dollars the government awarded them to do the work, as Pentagon officials have said some of the effort can be salvaged and used on the new program.

Problems had been mounting in the program’s development for years. The Missile Defense Agency said back in 2016 it expected the first RKV flight test by 2019, with fielding in 2020. The last estimate, released with the fiscal 2020 budget request, pushed the fielding date back to 2025.

Vice Admiral Jon Hill, MDA’s director, has said the homeland missile defence system – known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) – could address current threats from North Korea, which is known to have nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistics missiles (ICBM).

However, some of the system’s 44 legacy interceptors were built almost 15 years ago and may soon face sustainment and obsolesces issues, while others were fielded more recently.

To replace that discontinued program, a program has been launched to create the “new generation NGI interceptor to counter advanced threats.” NGI interceptors should be equipped on all 64 planned GBI missiles.

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