The Air Force recently released its classified request for proposals for the Mark 21A program's three-year technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase, which will develop a reentry vehicle for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent.
During TMRR, the chosen company will reduce the risk of its Mark 21A design, flight test the prototype and integrate it with GBSD and the National Nuclear Security Administration's W78-1 warhead, the service said in an Oct. 5 notice. Reentry vehicles deliver nuclear warheads down through the atmosphere to their target after a ballistic missile is launched.
"Under this solicitation, for TMRR, the contractor will develop a complete preliminary design, develop and demonstrate prototype [reentry vehicles], create plans necessary for a milestone B decision to enter the engineering and manufacturing development phase, and work with the W87-1 and GBSD programs to ensure proper integration," the notice stated.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK -- which Northrop now owns -- and Raytheon are interested in competing as prime contractors for the estimated $3 billion development and procurement program, Inside Defense previously reported. A contract award is expected in September 2019.
The reentry vehicle will carry a new configuration of the Air Force and Navy's refurbished W78 and W88-1 warheads, known as the Interoperable Warhead 1, starting in fiscal year 2030. GBSD is slated to replace Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles starting in FY-29, and will initially use existing reentry vehicles until the Mark 21A is ready.