Kratos, Bechtel join Northrop Grumman’s bid to develop future ICBM for U.S. Air Force

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Northrop Grumman is the only bidder for GBSD after Boeing dropped out of the competition.

WASHINGTON — Defense and space contractor Kratos and the engineering firm Bechtel have joined Northrop Grumman’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent team to develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile for the U.S. Air Force.

Bechtel will provide launch system design, construction and integration services; Kratos Defense and Security Solutions will supply missile and payload transporters, Northrop Grumman announced Feb. 25.

The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program will be a decades-long effort to design, develop, produce and deploy a replacement for the current Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile. ICBMs are the land-based leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear triad.

Greg Manuel, vice president of the GBSD enterprise at Northrop Grumman, said the company is investing in “people and facilities in order to meet the Air Force schedule of fielding GBSD in 2029.”

The Air Force confirmed in December that Northrop Grumman was the only bidder for GBSD after Boeing decided to drop out of the competition. Boeing said Northrop Grumman’s dominance of the solid rocket motors market gave it an overwhelming pricing advantage it could not compete against.

The nation’s only other manufacturer of solid rocket motors, Aerojet Rocketdyne, joined Northrop’s team in September. Other partners include BRPH, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, Honeywell, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Parsons and Textron Systems. Northrop’s GBSD operations will be headquartered in Utah, near Hill Air Force Base.

In the absence of other competitors, the Air Force is expected to award a sole-source development contract to Northrop Grumman in August.

The Pentagon’s 2021 budget request includes $1.5 billion for GBSD engineering and development. The Air Force plans to request an additional $12 billion for the program between 2022 and 2025, according to budget documents.