Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Awarded Contracts To Build US' Next Missile Defense System

The Next Generation Interceptor will be able to find, intercept, and shoot down incoming missiles.
Fabienne Lang
Missile defense and attackLockheed Martin

Here's some sci-fi movie-worthy news: Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Systems each won contracts to deliver the U.S.' most advanced missile defense system. 

The Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) will search, intercept, and shoot down incoming enemy missiles mid-air. 

Those are some pretty futuritstic warfare tactics.

Lockheed Martin has partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Northrop Grumman has teamed with Raytheon Missiles and Defense for this program. Both teams were awarded their contracts by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on Tuesday 23 March. 

The contract has an estimated maximum value of $1.6 billion through to 2022, and will carry both designs into the technology development and risk reduction phase of the program. The full base period contract funding is valued at $3.7 billion.

Sarah Reeves, vice president of Next Generation Interceptor Program at Lockheed Martin, expressed the team's excitement and said "We have been working toward supporting never-fail missions such as NGI for decades, and our team has the expertise and shared vision required to deliver on the MDA's need to evolve GMD."

The NGI will be the first step in developing and demonstrating new systems for the MDA goal to modernize the current Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. 

On the Northrop Grumman side, Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense said "We are bringing together next-generation technologies—digital engineering and game-changing discrimination—for an extremely advanced interceptor."

"This team is building on unmatched experience, accounting for all 47 prior U.S. exo-atmospheric intercepts. With that knowledge, we are also embracing innovative ways to accelerate operational deployment while reducing risk."

What is the Next Generation Interceptor

Bringing the NGI to life will enable the U.S. to stay one step ahead of its adversaries' threats, and enable the nation to defend its homeland with a keen eye. 

The two teams' contracts include developing the interceptor all-up-round, which means both its booster and its hit-to-kill payload. The NGI will launch from the current GBI silo infrastructure at Ft. Greely in Alaska, and Vendenberg AFB in California. 

The whole purpose of the NGI is to defend and protect the U.S. from intercontinental ballistic missiles, explains Lockheed Martin. The NGI's missiles will essentially shoot down incoming enemy missiles. 

To be able to safely and properly do this, however, the Interceptor has to be configured to first spot the enemy missile, identify its target, calculate the exact trajectory, launch an interceptor, and guide it to destroy the incoming target mid-air.

Oh, and it needs to do that all in the space of a few seconds. Sounds like a piece of cake, right? 

The teams certainly have their work cut out for them, but once the NGI comes to life, what a piece of defense infrastructure it'll be. 

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