Home Air MDA goes with Northrop, Raytheon for hypersonic missile interceptor program

MDA goes with Northrop, Raytheon for hypersonic missile interceptor program

GPI hypersonic interceptor design
Artist's illustration of a Ticonderoga-class cruiser launching the Glide Phase Interceptor from one of its vertical launch system cells. Photo: Raytheon

The US defense department has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Missiles & Defense to proceed to the next phase of the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) program.

GPI will provide the US with a hypersonic missile defense capability, designed to intercept hypersonic weapons in the glide phase of flight, which occurs once a missile has re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and is maneuvering toward its target.

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon received around $41.5 million for an anticipated period of performance through February 2023. These modifications will allow the performers to continue to further develop and refine their concepts leading to a system requirements review—prototype.

Lockheed Martin, who was contracted for the concept design phase together with Northrop and Raytheon in November 2021, was not awarded the contract modification for the next stage of the program.

“Today’s awards are an important step toward increasing the capacity of our missile defense System and providing a new capability to the Warfighter,” said VADM Jon Hill, Director, Missile Defense Agency. “GPI will play an important role in our regional hypersonic defense, and our acquisition strategy is ensuring that the department maximizes innovation to keep pace with rapidly advancing threats.”

“GPI will play a central role in ensuring the United States maintains the most reliable and advanced missile defense systems in the world that are capable of outpacing and defeating evolving missile threats,” said Rich Straka, vice president, launch vehicles, Northrop Grumman.

The interceptors that will be developed under the project will be fired from the standard vertical launch system (VLS) and will also integrate with the modified Baseline 9 Aegis weapon system to detect, track, control, and engage hypersonic threats in the glide phase of the missile’s flight.

The GPI concept fits into the MDA’s missile defense architecture to provide the warfighter and its allies with reliable layered defense against regional hypersonic missile threats.