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Defence Notes

Northrop Grumman to refresh US nuclear arsenal

9th September 2020 - 08:25 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A team led by Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $13.29 billion engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract by the USAF, to deliver the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) as a replacement for the 1970s-vintage LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center announced on 8 September that the EMD work will span eight and a half years, meaning an IOC of 2029 for the GBSD ICBM.

Tasks will include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification.

The EMD award follows a successful three-year technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) effort under the GBSD competition. Northrop Grumman stated that its team ‘demonstrated innovation and agility by applying a digital engineering approach and has achieved all TMRR design review milestones on time and on cost’.

The Northrop Grumman team was the sole remaining bidder for GBSD since October 2019, when Boeing dropped out on the grounds that it had run out of funding to continue TMRR work.

GBSD is intended to increase the accuracy, security and reliability of the US ICBM arsenal, with what the USAF described as ‘an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options to address the threats of today and the future’.

Brig Gen Anthony Genatempo, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and USAF program executive officer for strategic systems, said the USAF is following an acquisition strategy that ‘focuses on mature technologies, smart commonality, modular designs and maintaining the Air Force’s ability to leverage competition throughout the weapon system’s lifecycle to ensure it will effectively adapt to evolving environments’.

Northrop Grumman will fulfil the contract at its GBSD facilities in Utah as well as other locations across the US.

Other GBSD team members include: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT Global, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3 Harris, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems; and hundreds of SMEs in the defence, engineering and construction industries.

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