The Pentagon plans to take a big step in its long and costly effort to build a new missile defense system, the Next Generation Interceptor program, in coming weeks.
The NGI is trying to pick up where the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program left off when it was scrapped in 2019 after burning through $1.2 billion on research and development and being found wanting. But the Missile Defense Agency has taken its time on the NGI work, issuing requirements in 2019 and doing its homework on how and why the previous effect failed.
The failure of the RKV was a major black eye for the Missile Defense Agency and the government’s attempt to get a new ballistic missile interceptor into the field, but defense officials say they have been able to harvest much of the research they did on the program. The RKV was an ambitious, $5.8 billion technology program led by Boeing — though Raytheon actually builds the Kill Vehicles — to improve on the current Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle. Both are ground-based interceptors designed to defend the US mainland against long-range ballistic missile attacks.
President Biden has been seen as a long-time skeptic of missile defense programs and this decision is likely to help set the tone and direction for the administration’s efforts.
Plans call for the Pentagon to choose two winners later this month from teams led by Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, and Boeing for development contracts, followed by a final decision on who gets to build up to 20 new interceptors that would protect the homeland against ballistic missiles launched by North Korea or Iran…
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