Missile Defense Agency Will Award GMD, Targets Contracts Soon

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WASHINGTON — While its ongoing competition to select a contractor to manage the primary U.S. territorial missile shield is getting most of the attention, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has other procurements on its plate this year, including long-range targets and a modeling and simulation architecture.

The White House submitted its 2011 budget request to Congress almost a year ago, which included some $8.4 billion for MDA programs. Four months into the fiscal year, lawmakers have yet to pass any appropriations bills for 2011, and most government agencies have been operating under a series of short-term measures known as continuing resolutions that provide funding at the previous year’s level.

While the stalled budget likely will cause some measure of uncertainty for MDA procurements this year, agency spokesman Rick Lehner was unable to provide specific information about how or which programs might be affected.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security of St. Louis has been the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system’s prime contractor since the program’s inception in 1998, responsible for development, deployment, integration and testing. The MDA announced two years ago that it would hold a competition for continued operation and sustainment work for the U.S. territorial shield, and later decided to include future development work as part of the new contract as well. The GMD Development and Sustainment Contract is expected to be worth about $6 billion over 10 years.

Boeing aligned itself with Northrop Grumman Corp. of Falls Church, Va., to defend its GMD throne, while two of the other biggest players in missile defense, Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., and Raytheon Co. of Waltham, Mass., joined forces to try to unseat them. Final bids for the system are due Jan. 28, with a contract award scheduled for May 31, Lehner said Jan. 20.


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Also on the near-term horizon for the MDA is the selection of new providers of both long- and intermediate-range target missiles used to test its systems. The agency to date has not tested any of its systems against ICBM-class target missiles. Last year a program was initiated to develop long-range targets that could be powered by government-provided solid rocket motors pulled from decommissioned U.S. strategic missiles, an industry source said.

A final request for proposals for ICBM-range targets is expected to be released in March, followed by a contract award in December for three long-range targets plus an option for three more, Lehner said. The contract value is likely to fall between $300 million and $500 million for all six targets, and among the companies expected to compete are Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., Coleman Aerospace of Orlando, Fla., and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne, Calif., according to an industry source.

The MDA is currently in source selection for its new intermediate range targets procurement. Until recently the MDA relied on intermediate-range targets built by Lockheed Martin and Coleman Aerospace. However, a Coleman Aerospace target failed during a flight test last year and Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the agency’s director, put an indefinite hold on using that company’s targets. Northrop Grumman, Orbital Sciences and Coleman Aerospace bid for the new intermediate targets program, while Lockheed Martin did not bid as a prime, a source said.

A contractor is expected to be chosen by the end of March, Lehner said. The winner could be tapped to produce as many as 22 intermediate-range targets at a cost approaching $1 billion, a source said.

The MDA is in the early phase of a competition for the so-called Next Generation Aegis Missile, which is planned to be deployed in Europe  around 2020 to protect the United States and NATO allies from long-range strikes. Raytheon, as builder of the sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor, is the incumbent contractor.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have all submitted bids for multiple, 32-month study contracts for the Next Generation Aegis Missile that are expected to be awarded in the coming months. The contracts will be worth $40 million to $45 million apiece, a source said.

The MDA also is holding a competition to develop a new modeling and simulation architecture for testing all of the elements of the ballistic missile defense system. The agency last year revised its entire flight test program and concluded it would need to rely more on modeling and simulation capabilities. The Objective Simulation Framework program will seek to create a single modeling and simulation system from a number of existing hardware- and software-based capabilities, according to documents posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman announced in September they would partner to pursue the Objective Simulation Framework program. Northrop Grumman developed the MDA’s existing Digital Simulation Framework system, while Boeing developed the existing Single Simulation Framework system, according to a Northrop Grumman press release.

The MDA is expected to decide this summer on a prime contractor for the Objective Simulation Framework program, which could be worth around $600 million over five years, a source said.