Northrop Announces Suppliers For New ICBM. Boeing is Not on the List

By Marcus Weisgerber

September 16, 2019

Northrop Grumman has chosen the major subcontractors who will help bid for the U.S. Air Force’s next nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. One notable absence: Boeing.

It’s not a surprise. In July, Boeing said it would withdraw from the ICBM competition, whose conditions it called too favorable to Northrop. Then Boeing officials asked to join Northrop in a team bid, an overture that was rejected last week, they said

On Monday morning, Northrop released the list of subcontractors for its bid on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, program — now likely to be the only bid the Air Force gets when the deadline arrives in December.

Just about every major defense company is on Northrop’s “nationwide team.” There’s Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, L3Harris Technologies, Collins Aerospace (United Technologies), Textron Systems, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell and Parsons. Northrop’s team also BRPH, Clark Construction and “hundreds of other small, medium and large businesses across the United States,” the company said.

Related: Consider a National-Team Approach to the Next ICBM

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Related: Who Needs ICBMs?

In all, more than 10,000 people across those companies are estimated to work on the new ICBM, the company said in its statement.

We are confident this GBSD team we have so carefully assembled over the past four years is positioned to deliver a safe, reliable and affordable GBSD system on schedule,” Greg Manuel, vice president and the company’s GBSD enterprise leader, said in a statement.

Last month, Northrop Grumman broke ground on a new Utah facility that would become the headquarters for the project if it wins the contract. 

The announcement came on the first day of the Air Force Association’s AIr, Space and Cyber Conference, the largest annual gathering U.S. Air Force professionals and defense industry executives.

On Friday, Boeing said Northrop had rejected its calls to team up.

 “In our discussions to date, Northrop Grumman has expressed that they are not interested in partnering with Boeing to form a best-of-industry GBSD team,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We are increasingly concerned that the Air Force’s deterrence mission and the nation’s security will be deprived of the best solution – a proven approach that leverages both companies’ technical strengths and decades of ICBM experience.”

In August 2017, the Air Force hired Boeing and Northrop in August 2017 to begin building components and developing technology for the new ICBMs. The plan is to select one of them to build 400 missiles and control centers that would launch the nuclear weapons. 

But in July, Boeing surprising announced it would not enter a bid, saying the contest was tilted toward Northrop. That’s because Northrop, purchased Orbital ATK, one of only two American companies that makes the solid rocket motors needed to propel an ICBM.

In the time since, Boeing has pushed the Air Force and Congress to assemble a team that includes Boeing and Northrop. It argues that its work on the Minuteman III, the current ICBM in operation since the 1970s, as earned it a role in building the next one.


By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

September 16, 2019

https://www.defenseone.com/business/2019/09/northrop-icbm/159886/