Northrop Grumman's Nuclear Missile Passes Design Review

  • Our Bureau
  • 07:15 AM, February 17, 2021
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Northrop Grumman's Nuclear Missile Passes Design Review
Unarmed Minuteman III ICBM

Northrop Grumman’s design for a new nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile named Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) has completed first major design review.

Around 660 GBSDs will replace the five-decades old Minuteman III nuclear missiles starting in the late 2020s. Northrop was awarded a $13.3 billion engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) agreement in September.

The EMD phase encompasses total system design, qualification, testing, and certification. It is the final major design effort before the military decides to begin production.

The next key milestone is the integrated baseline review (IBR).

The EMD baseline review (EBR) is an assessment of the current technical baseline, which includes user requirements, program data and configuration elements, and is the first step in transitioning ownership of the allocated baseline to the government.

The three-day event was held virtually with more than 100 people in attendance throughout Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force. The team is currently on schedule to meet IBR, which sets the program’s performance measurement baseline.

Bloomberg reported in October the decades-long effort could cost as much as $264 billion, including operating and supporting the weapons in their silos. That doesn’t include warhead development valued at nearly $15 billion.

GBSD should be ready for operations starting in 2029, though Northrop and the Air Force will continue swapping out missiles into the 2030s.

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