Lockheed wins US Air Force nuclear weapons contract worth almost $1 billion
Lockheed Martin’s King of Prussia facility in Pennsylvania has won a contract worth approximately US$996 million for the MK21A Reentry Vehicle (RV) program.
Work to be carried out for the contract will include engineering, manufacturing and design for a ‘low-technical risk and affordable’ RV for the LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM, which will replace the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Awarded as a sole-source acquisition by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Lockheed will be expected to complete the program by 20 October 2039.
According to the Department of Defense (DoD), $26.6 million of the total amount has been obligated for research, development, test and evaluation for FY 2024.
In 2019, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed a $108 million contract for a Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract for the Mk21A RV. At the time, John Snyder, vice-president of Advanced Strategic Programs for Lockheed Martin, said: ‘It is essential that Lockheed Martin continue our long-standing ICBM partnership with the Air Force to provide them with advanced solutions.’
According to a report from Shephard from November 2020, Lockheed has obtained a further $34.9 million contract modification from the USAF Nuclear War Center to continue technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) R&D work on the Mk21A RV. In August 2021, Lockheed received another Air Force contract valued at $51.2 million focusing on the MK21A RV’s arming and fuzing subsystem.
A demonstration mission in July 2022 ended in disaster when a Minotaur II+ rocket carrying the MK21A RV exploded 11 seconds after launch.
Lockheed Martin will be exhibiting at the Dubai Airshow between 13 and 17 November.
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