Lockheed-led Team Bidding on MDA Targets Contract Looks Formidable

by

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin is the only declared bidder among the most-plausible contenders for a contract to supply medium-range ballistic missile targets for the Pentagon’s missile defense test program.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) intends to award a single contract for a planned six ground- and air-launched target vehicles, according to a January procurement notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The targets will have a range of 2,000 kilometers and be capable of carrying 600-kilogram payloads, the notice said.

The contract, expected to include options for additional vehicles, is scheduled to be awarded this year. Proposals were due June 8.

In a press release issued June 8, Lockheed Martin said it is leading an industry team whose members include Orbital Sciences Corp. that submitted a bid for the contract to the MDA’s targets and countermeasures directorate in Huntsville, Ala. Dulles, Va.-based Orbital is an established provider of targets for testing ballistic missile defense capabilities.

Unclear at this point is who else is bidding against what looks to be a formidable competitor in the Lockheed-led team. Representatives from three established missile defense contractors, Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, said their companies will not be competing for the contract.

Another company that has provided MDA target missiles in the recent past, L-3 Communications’ Orlando, Fla.-based Coleman Aerospace division, is not commenting, L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said June 22.

Coleman was suspended from MDA contract work after an ignition failure of one of its air-launched target vehicles marred a planned December 2010 test of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense System. Coleman subsequently modified that product, which flew successfully in a nonintercept test last year.

Coleman bid unsuccessfully for an MDA intermediate-range target contract that was awarded to Orbital in March 2011. Northrop Grumman also bid for that contract, which is valued at $1.1 billion and calls for Orbital to supply at least eight and as many as 22 vehicles through 2017.

Intermediate-range targets have longer ranges than medium-class vehicles, MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said via email June 20.

In addition to Orbital, Lockheed’s medium-range target team includes Cummings Aerospace, Davidson Technologies, and IERUS Technologies Inc., all of Huntsville.

Under the proposal, Lockheed Martin would perform engineering and program management in Huntsville and production work in Courtland, Ala., according to the company press release.

“Target missiles are important to our nation’s missile defense mission,” John Holly, vice president of missile defense systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., said in a prepared statement. “Our targets provide threat-relevant scenarios to the system under test, creating tough and stressing engagements. Our team’s proposal for Medium-range Ballistic Missile Targets delivers the reliability, threat relevance and cost effectiveness needed to be support the mission.”

Lockheed Martin said it has more than 15 years of experience as a provider of target missiles to the MDA. During that time, the company successfully flew 42 targets in  43 attempts for a success rate of 98 percent, according to the press release. These missions involve both legacy and next-generation ballistic missile targets.