MDA awards penultimate contract in project to break up legacy GMD sustainment

By Jason Sherman / June 2, 2023

The Defense Department has awarded Raytheon Technologies a new deal as part of the project to break up the former Ground-based Midcourse Defense system continuing sustainment and development contract -- executing a potential $621 million, five-year package to keep modern and operational exoatmospheric kill vehicles in the deployed homeland defense interceptor fleet.

On June 1, the Missile Defense Agency announced a sole-source, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract award to Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ -- the second of three planned sole-source GMD sustainment contracts.

“Under this new contract, the contractor will maintain the equipment, facilities and personnel required to transport, test, upgrade, and repair existing Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicles in a variety of configurations,” states a Pentagon contract announcement.

Last year, MDA locked in a new GMD Futures contract framework, breaking up the legacy GMD development and sustainment contract into five smaller projects -- three sole-source contract awards and two competitively bid: the GMD Weapon System (GWS) program and the Systems Integration, Test and Readiness (SITR).

Northrop Grumman won the GWS contract in July after being the only company to bid; in September, Boeing won the SITR contract and a protest by BAE Systems of that source selection was subsequently dismissed.

The three sole-source, “in-service fleet” contracts include an Interceptor Integration and Test Contract which MDA is readying to award Boeing sometime in FY-24 and the new contract with Raytheon for exoatmospheric kill vehicle sustainment. On Sept. 3, 2021, MDA awarded Northrop Grumman a potential $421 million contract for GBI booster sustainment.

“These contracts are intended primarily to ensure fleet viability until replacement interceptors . . . are fielded,” MDA explained to Congress as part of the agency’s fiscal year 2024 budget request. The Next Generation Interceptor program is the planned follow-on to the current Ground-based Interceptor fleet.

Between 2011 and 2022, Boeing was prime contractor for the GMD sustainment contract, leading an industry team that is slated to provide end-to-end development and sustainment of the system -- work that ended up being worth more than $11 billion.

As the GMD prime on the legacy contract, Boeing -- along with Northrop Grumman -- oversaw development, integration, testing, operation and sustainment as well as ground system elements and supported operation and sustainment and system engineering testing. Boeing also integrated a Raytheon-built exoatmospheric kill vehicle on a booster stack built by Northrop Grumman.

Eyeing North Korean advances with its ballistic missile program in 2017, MDA in 2018 decided to leave Boeing’s control of the GMD development and sustainment contract in place to address accelerated missile defense requirements.

In 2019, MDA began thinking anew about how best to structure future contracts to manage the GMD system, contemplating whether to bundle end-to-end development and sustainment of the interceptor fleet into a single deal or break it up into a package of smaller competitive contracts.