Boeing Withdraws From Pentagon Nuclear Missile Program Over Bidding Process
On Wednesday, American aerospace company Boeing announced its withdrawal from the Pentagon’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) project, citing concern with the bidding process.
“After numerous attempts to resolve concerns within the procurement process, Boeing has informed the Air Force that it will not bid Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) under the current acquisition approach," said Todd Blecher, a spokesperson for Boeing’s defense, space and security division, multiple reports reveal.
“We’ve evaluated these issues extensively and determined that the current acquisition approach does not provide a level playing field for fair competition,” Bletcher added.
The GBSD program refers to replacing 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command since the 1960s. With the exception of existing silos and warheads, every element of the ICBM system will be modernized as part of the GBSD program, according to published documentation from aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman. New missiles, command and control, infrastructure and launch systems will be developed to improve capacity, accuracy and performance through 2075, Sputnik reported.
With Boeing dropping out of the project just one week after the Air Force requested final proposals to replace the Minuteman system, Northrop Grumman remains the only bidder. In 2017, Boeing and Northrop were each awarded contracts worth $349.2 million and $328 million, respectively, to come up with proposals. The Air Force was planning to evaluate both competing proposals to get the most economical prices for the missile system rehaul.
According to defense consultant Loren Thompson, Boeing decided to pull out of the competition because of Northrup’s Grumman’s 2018 acquisition of Orbital ATK, a major player in the production of rocket motors.
“Because Northrop owns the biggest maker of solid rocket motors in America, Boeing doesn’t think it can price its missiles competitively,” Thompson told the Washington Post.
Noting that Northrop Grumman’s recent acquisition would leave the company acting as a monopoly figure in sector, the official indicated it might make congressional lawmakers uneasy about the move. However, it is presently unclear how the bidding process for the GBSD program will proceed.