WASHINGTON — Raytheon Missiles and Space’s proposal for the Missile Defense Agency’s Glide Phase Interceptor program will begin preliminary design after the company reached a key milestone earlier this week.
The company announced Tuesday that it had completed the Systems Requirements Review-Prototype stage for the missile defense program, meaning that the contractor and the government have a mutual understanding of the requirements before moving forward.
“We have a firm understanding of the requirements, and we’re ready to continue GPI development,” said Tay Fitzgerald, president of Strategic Missile Defense at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, in a statement. “This is a major step toward delivering this capability to the warfighter.”
The Glide Phase Interceptor is a Missile Defense Agency program that is designed to destroy incoming hypersonic missiles during their glide phase of flight, between the launch phase the and terminal phase. The interceptors would be launched from Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense destroyers and integrate into the Aegis Weapon System to detect, track and engage hypersonic missiles, part of the Missile Defense Agency’s layered missile defense.
“The Raytheon Missiles & Defense GPI concept employs a low-risk solution that uses proven Standard Missile technology already deployed on Aegis ships, while advancing critical technologies needed in the hypersonic environment,” Fitzgerald said.
Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were selected for earlier GPI phases last November. In June, the Pentagon announced $41 million contract modifications for Raytheon and Northrop to move forward with the program, eliminating Lockheed. Under the contract, Northrop and Raytheon are required to “continue to further develop and refine their concept leading to a system requirements review – prototype.”
While GPI progresses, Missile Defense Agency director Vice Adm. Jon Hill has been reluctant to lay out a timeline for the program, explaining at an event in May that it’s still in the early stages.
“We’re just getting started,” he said.
The Missile Defense Agency’s fiscal 2023 budget request asked for $225 million for hypersonic missile defense, and its unfunded requirements list included $318 million for more hypersonic defenses. In congressional testimony also in May, Hill said the additional money would be used for GPI.
“The items that you see listed there specifically to the Glide Phase Interceptor is to risk reduce key technology areas — that’s a new regime up in the glide phase — and so seeker work, propulsion work, the old thermal protection system issues that will help to de-risk the program,” he said.
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