Northrop Grumman's Next Generation Interceptor Program Advances with Successful Preliminary Design Review

Lockheed Martin-Aerojet Rocketdyne team completed its PDR in September 2023
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  • 05:42 AM, February 1, 2024
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Northrop Grumman's Next Generation Interceptor Program Advances with Successful Preliminary Design Review
Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) illustration @NGC

Northrop Grumman has completed its All-Up Round (AUR) Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program in partnership with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

Both teams—Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne; and Northrop Grumman and Raytheon—have entered the critical design phase, with Lockheed Martin's team completing its PDR in September 2023.

The NGI program aims to replace the aging Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors, currently numbering 44 and mainly deployed in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The existing interceptors lack the ability to counter missiles with multiple kill vehicles or decoys, leading to increased complexity in the defeat process.

Initiated after the Pentagon canceled the Redesigned Kill Vehicle program in August 2019 due to insurmountable technical issues, the NGI program employs digital methods to expedite the design process. Northrop Grumman's engineers leveraged these methods, allowing for earlier hardware construction and testing commencement.

In a statement released on January 31, Northrop Grumman disclosed the successful PDR completion, showcasing the technical approach for integrating its NGI design across all subsystems. This phase, concluded on January 26, is a crucial step in developing a homeland missile defense interceptor.

The NGI program aims to enhance technical capabilities for defending the U.S. homeland against Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) threats within the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. It addresses current interceptor limitations by accommodating missiles with multiple kill vehicles or decoys, improving the defeat process.

Raytheon, the strategic partner, played a crucial role in the PDR by providing kill vehicle hardware for environmental testing, sensor hardware, manufacturing fixtures, and test equipment. A full-scale digital model of the AUR design was presented in a virtual reality environment.

Following the successful PDR, Northrop Grumman aims to refine its NGI design in preparation for the Critical Design Review, expected to be completed ahead of schedule. The deployment of the first operational Next Generation Interceptor is projected as early as 2027, a year faster than the Missile Defense Agency's initial estimates.

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