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Boeing Dropping Bid for Next-Generation ICBM Represents Shrinking Industrial Base

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Unread 08.09.19, 01:39 PM
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Boeing Dropping Bid for Next-Generation ICBM Represents Shrinking Industrial Base

On 08.09.19 01:18 PM posted by Emma Watkins

In late July, Boeing dropped out of the running for the newintercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) competition. Boeing chose to removeitself with the expectation it will be unable to provide the system at acompetitive price.

Nuclear weapons and the missiles that carry them are key elements of the United States overall ability to deter major wars.

Near peer competitors are unlikely to risk nuclear attack onAmerica or her allies as long as they know that their aggression could triggeran even greater U.S. retaliation.

This strategy relies on American technology being equal, ifnot superior, to that of rivals. However, the process by which the U.S.acquires innovative military technology and weapons systems is at risk.

The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) competition,worth $85 billion, is the Pentagon’s program to develop the next generation ofICBMs to replace the Air Force’s aging Minuteman III.

Unfortunately, when Boeing dropped out of the competition,it impacted the U.S.’s ability to obtain this missile system at a reasonableprice. Because Lockheed Martin was earlier eliminated from the competition, NorthrupGrumman is now the only company in the running to win the contract.

The competition’s perceived lopsidedness stems from NorthrupGrumman’s 2018 acquisitionof Orbital ATK, one of only two manufacturers of solid rocket motors in thecountry.

Solid rocket motors are an essential component of aballistic missile and both Boeing and Northrup Grumman intended to use OrbitalATK in their proposals. Although the Department of Defense extended thedeadline for proposals by 60 days, Boeing claimed that alteration did notaddress their concerns regarding the contract’s inequitableness.

Due to the contract’s inherent structure, Boeing decided theproject was no longer a worthwhile investment.

The element of competition between the two companies hadbeen key to the Air Force’s plan to acquire a new design at a low cost, sincecompetition remains a key ingredient in keeping costs down.

Not only has this acquisition taken Boeing out of thecompetition, Boeing’s elimination may also cement the demise of the only otherproducer of solid rocket motors in the nation, Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The Ground BasedStrategic Deterrent program is likely to be the lastmissile program awarded for a generation and Aerojet Rocketdyne considers itessential for their survival to participate.

Since Northrup Grumman now has the capability to producetheir motors in-house, they are less likely to also involve Aerojet. OrbitalATK’s acquisition has created a potential single point of failure in the supplychain that threatens the future ability of the nation to produce what we needto maintain our nuclear deterrent.

Over time, America’s defense industrial base has shrunk.

Boeing’s decision to forgo competing in the Ground BasedStrategic Deterrent program is a symptom of an ever-diminishing number oftechnology suppliers competing for scarce funding.

The Pentagon and Congress need to pay attention to thissituation as this will impact our nation’s defenses.

The post Boeing Dropping Bid for Next-Generation ICBM Represents Shrinking Industrial Base appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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