The last shot at a contract to replace America’s nuclear arsenal — worth an estimated $86 billion over the next 50 years — seems to have slipped the grasp of The Boeing Co. and its missile defense centers in Huntsville.
On Oct. 21, Boeing announced that it is winding down work on a $359 million development contract that would have led to competition for the grand prize — the contract to produce a new fleet of atomic missiles.
Boeing and Northrop Grumman were awarded development contracts in 2017 for the missile overhaul — known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. It would replace America’s existing 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Boeing announced in July that it was dropping out of the competition for the GBSD contract, complaining of unfairness. Northrop’s purchase of one of only two U.S. solid rocket motor manufacturers had given Northrop an unfair procurement advantage, Boeing complained.
But then in September a Boeing official pivoted and told reporters that the company was hoping to convince the Air Force to compel Northrop to partner with Boeing, according to a story in Defense News.
“We think clearly it’s time for the Air Force or other governmental entities to engage and direct the right solution. Northrop has elected not to do that,” said Frank McCall, Boeing’s director of strategic deterrence systems. “So, we’re looking for government intervention to drive us to the best solution,” Defense News reported.
The Air Force, instead, shut the spigot on any more GBSD development money flowing to Boeing.