Lockheed Martin’s Huntsville offices will be the place for testing the survivability of U.S. defenses against nuclear attack, in accordance with a $240 million contract awarded recently by the Missile Defense Agency.
The contract calls for Lockheed and a battery of subcontractors with Alabama offices to use modeling and simulation assessments to determine if the “extremely complicated” elements of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) — once popularly known as the “missile shield” — will work against existing and evolving threats. The work will “provide critical data to assess the operational effectiveness and survivability of the BMDS and its elements,” said Lockheed’s release.
The contract — called the Modeling and Simulation Contract – Framework and Tools (MASC-F) — directs contractors to use computer-generated modeling and simulation to “forecast how our complex and interconnected Ballistic Missile Defense System will operate in a real-world environment,” the release said.
“Testing the different elements of the Ballistic Missile Defense System together is an extremely complicated process,” said JD Hammond, vice president of C4ISR Systems for Lockheed Martin. “MASC-F will enable the MDA to run ‘what-if’ scenarios before fielding new configurations to ensure the warfighter gets the most effective system possible.”
According to Missile Defense Agency estimates, Congress has appropriated over $200 billion for the agency’s programs between fiscal years 1985 and 2019. The $240 million MASC-F contract to test the whole system, therefore, represents 0.12 percent of BMDS’s total cost.
“Work on the MASC-F program will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s Huntsville, Alabama facility,” said the company release.
Subcontractors on the work, said Lockheed, will be Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, CohesionForce, PeopleTec, Penta Research, Corvid Technologies, Archarithms, ISYS Technologies and M&M Technical Services Inc.
The new MASC-F contract calls for oversight assessment of the whole missile system, yet Lockheed also has long been a designer and manufacturer of key components of the system.
Lockheed employs about 500 workers at its missile assembly facilities in Pike County, Alabama, where it makes PAC-3 and THAAD missiles.
The Patriot Advance Capability-3 (PAC-3) is designed to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in their final stage of attack, at lower altitudes.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles are designed to knock out incoming ballistic missiles as they start to descend from their highest trajectory — a difficult feat often described as hitting a bullet with a bullet. The first successful real-world test occurred in 2017.