Northrop Grumman Wins Competition to Build Future ICBM, by Default

 In Uncategorized, Defense, Air

A Minuteman 3 inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch­es during a test Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Spokeswoman Ann Stefanek: “The Air Force will pro­ceed with an aggres­sive and effec­tive sole-source nego­ti­a­tion.”

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force con­firmed Dec. 13 that Northrop Grumman is the only bidder for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent pro­gram to devel­op a new inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

The Air Force only received one pro­pos­al in response to a solic­i­ta­tion for “GBSD engi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing devel­op­ment and early pro­duc­tion and deploy­ment,” Air Force spokes­woman Ann Stefanek said in a state­ment. “The Air Force will pro­ceed with an aggres­sive and effec­tive sole-source nego­ti­a­tion. We remain on track for a con­tract award in the fourth quar­ter of Fiscal Year 2020.”

The GBSD is an esti­mat­ed $63 bil­lion 20-year pro­gram to replace more than 400 aging Minuteman 3 inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. It was expect­ed to be a two-horse race between Northrop Grumman and Boeing. But Boeing decid­ed to drop out after it con­clud­ed that Northrop Grumman’s grip on the solid rocket motors market would give it an over­whelm­ing pric­ing advan­tage it could not com­pete against.

“Boeing is dis­ap­point­ed we were unable to submit a bid to the GBSD solic­i­ta­tion,” the com­pa­ny said in a state­ment Dec. 13.

Boeing had unsuc­cess­ful­ly plead­ed with the Air Force to compel Northrop Grumman to form a “nation­al team” and include Boeing it its bid. In the Dec. 13 state­ment, Boeing said it “con­tin­ues to sup­port a change in acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy that would bring the best of indus­try to this nation­al pri­or­i­ty.”

Congressional lead­ers like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D‑Wash.) have crit­i­cized the Air Force for allow­ing the GBSD pro­gram to become a sole-source award, pre­dict­ing that it will result in higher than antic­i­pat­ed costs.

The bipar­ti­san con­fer­ence agree­ment for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 directs the sec­re­tary of the Air Force to submit to the con­gres­sion­al defense com­mit­tees a report “assess­ing the risks and costs result­ing from receiv­ing only one bid for that phase and plans to mit­i­gate such risks and costs.” The report is due 60 days after award­ing a con­tract.

The Air Force says it has ana­lyzed the pro­ject­ed cost of the pro­gram during the ear­li­er phase of GBSD when Boeing and Northrop Grumman were work­ing on com­pet­ing pro­pos­als. “The com­pet­i­tive tech­nol­o­gy mat­u­ra­tion and risk reduc­tion phase has pro­vid­ed the DoD with an unprece­dent­ed amount of tech­ni­cal and cost knowl­edge,” said Stefanek, the Air Force spokes­woman.

Hanging over the pro­gram is an inves­tiga­tive query by the Federal Trade Commission of Northrop Grumman’s June 2018 acqui­si­tion of Orbital ATK, which gave the com­pa­ny a hugely dom­i­nant posi­tion in the solid rocket motors market. Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden con­firmed the query during the third quar­ter earn­ings call Oct. 24.

“When Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK it also acquired a struc­tur­al advan­tage in pric­ing its GBSD offer­ing,” indus­try con­sul­tant Loren Thompson, of the Lexington Institute, told SpaceNews. Boeing has argued that because of the acqui­si­tion of Orbital ATK, Northrop Grumman gained “anti­com­pet­i­tive and inher­ent­ly unfair cost, resource and inte­gra­tion advan­tages relat­ed to solid rocket motors.” The com­pa­ny point­ed out that solid rocket motors account for more than half the price of an ICBM.

Source: SpaceNews

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search