The Air Force received approval Aug. 23 for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program to start the next phase of its acquisition effort.
With this formal Defense Acquisition System “Milestone A” approval, the GBSD program enters the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase of its effort to replace the aging intercontinental ballistic missile, the LGM-30 Minuteman III. The Minuteman III missile fleet was fielded in the 1970s with an initial 10-year service life, while its launch and command and control systems date back to the 1960s.
The Air Force is focused on developing and delivering an integrated weapon system, including launch and command and control segments. The new GBSD weapon system will meet existing user requirements, while having the adaptability and flexibility to affordably address changing technology and threat environments through 2075. Deployment is projected to begin in the late 2020s.
The milestone approval was granted following a determination by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics that the Air Force’s GBSD acquisition plan is appropriately structured to reduce risk, balance design and requirement trades, and ensure affordable program execution.
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center previously released a request for proposals for the GBSD’s TMRR phase on July 29, with proposals due not later than October 12. Following a thorough source-selection process, the Air Force expects to award up to two TMRR contracts by the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.
The GBSD program is managed by the center’s ICBM Systems Directorate located at Hill AFB, Utah. The Directorate is responsible for the lifecycle management of the ICBM portfolio, including sustainment of current Minuteman III weapon system and development of future ICBM capabilities including GBSD. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is headquartered at Kirtland AFB, N.M., where it synchronizes all aspects of nuclear materiel management as part of the Air Force Materiel Command and in direct support of the Air Force Global Strike Command.