Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI)
Hypersonic Defense Regional Glide Phase Weapon System (RGPWS)
The Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) supports the hypersonic defense mission to accelerate the required defenses needed against advanced threats. A Final Request for Prototype Proposal (RPP) for a Regional Glide Phase Weapons System (RGPWS) will no longer be issued by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), according to a 26 January 2021 statement. The MDA had completed the assessment and review of requirements at all levels of the Missile Defense System (MDS) and will accelerate the hypersonic missile defense program under a newly designated Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) initiative. GPI will be developed in phases to deliver increasing regional defensive capabilities to the U.S. warfighter over time.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded Other Transactional (OT) Agreements on 19 November 2021 to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Missiles and Defense to complete an accelerated concept design of the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) for MDA’s regional hypersonic missile defense program. The three companies were awarded separate contracts totaling about $60 million. Any prototypes designed will fit into the current Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system Interceptors will be fired from Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense destroyers using 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.
GPI will intercept hypersonic weapons in the glide phase of flight, which occurs once a missile has re-entered Earth's atmosphere and is manuevering toward its target. The initial development phase will focus on reducing technical risk, rapidly developing technology, and demonstrating the ability to intercept a hypersonic threat. Hypersonic capabilities require a blend of proven technology with cutting-edge developments in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, materials science, guidance, navigation and control, space capabilities, high-speed processing and communications.
“We are pleased to have these contractors working with us to develop design concepts for the GPI,” said Rear Adm. Tom Druggan, MDA’s Sea-based Weapon Systems program executive. “Multiple awards allow us to execute a risk reduction phase to explore industry concepts and maximize the benefits of a competitive environment to demonstrate the most effective and reliable Glide Phase Interceptor for regional hypersonic defense, as soon as possible.” 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 from rogue-nations.
"Raytheon Technologies systems are the cornerstone of today's ballistic missile defenses. We're building on that knowledge to advance the missile defense system for future threats," said Tay Fitzgerald, vice president of Strategic Missile Defense. "GPI's speed, ability to withstand extreme heat, and maneuverability will make it the first missile designed to engage this advanced threat."
“In the early 2010s, our government noted that near peer adversaries had started developing hypersonic weapons,” explained Tyler St. Onge, Senior Manager for the Launch and Missile Defense Systems division of Northrop Grumman. “These new weapons featured maneuvering, booster-launched warheads traveling at speeds in excess of Mach 5. That makes them different and more dangerous than the ballistic missile threats that MDA has been preparing for all these years.”
St. Onge explained that the U.S. had already been pursuing the development of hypersonic weapons itself since the early 2000s, so progress in this advanced weapons technology by adversaries was not unexpected. However, by 2016, the cadence of foreign hypersonic weapons testing began to rise. “It became clear that the DoD needed a well-constructed, put-together way to address the hypersonic threat,” St. Onge noted. He added that the department could not rely on the technology of today to address the threat of tomorrow.
St. Onge explained that, during the glide phase, hypersonic weapons are traveling at blinding speeds and relatively low altitudes — typically 20 to 80 km — which makes them challenging for ground-based radar systems to track. However, the really vexing problem with glide weapons is that “they can navigate around areas containing known missile defense sensors,” St. Onge continued. “So, you may think you know where it’s heading, but then suddenly it turns and heads unperturbed to a target 200 km away,” he said.
Hypersonic glide weapons’ speed and maneuverability also make it difficult for traditional ballistic interceptors to match their moves or keep up with them, added St. Onge. “We think we should actually be using a hypersonic [system] to take out a hypersonic weapon,” he said. “MDA is calling this approach a glide phase interceptor. They believe that a hypersonic threat is at its most vulnerable during the glide phase of its flight.”
The Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI) effort supplanted the previous Regional Glide Phase Weapon System (RGPWS). The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) initiated a Hypersonic Defense Regional Glide Phase Weapon System (RGPWS) Prototype Project under the authority of 10 U.S.C. §2371b; “Authority of the Department of Defense to Carry Out Certain Prototype Projects”. Competitive procedures will be used to enter into one or more agreements(s) leading to the design, development, and demonstration of a Prototype Weapon. This Other Transaction (OT) Agreement will be issued directly by MDA.
The purpose of the Regional Glide Phase Weapon System (RGPWS) effort was to reduce interceptor key technology and integration risks, anchor modeling and simulation in areas of large uncertainty, and to increase the interceptor technology readiness levels (TRL) to level 5. The effort was scoped for one Flight Experiment in a non-intercept demonstration of key performance attributes of the interceptor. While further analysis and flight demonstrations culminating in an intercept Flight Experiment test was necessary to mitigate all critical risks, an intercept Flight Experiment was currently beyond the scope of this effort. The definition of a "prototype project" in the context of an OT was as follows: a prototype project addresses a proof of concept, model, reverse engineering to address obsolescence, pilot, novel application of commercial technologies for defense purposes, agile development activity, creation, design, development, demonstration of technical or operational utility, or combinations of the foregoing. A process, including a business process, may be the subject of a prototype project.
Industry Engagement: The following timeline was provided for planning purposes only and may be adjusted:
- Early December 2019 - Pre-Solicitation announcement providing additional details for a General Session, Prime Performer One-on-Ones and the issuance of a Prime Performer Technical Data Library (Prime Performer refers to companies forming teams and the company considered “Prime Performer” identified)
- Mid-December 2019 - Issuance of a Draft Request for Prototype Proposal (DRPP)
- Mid-December 2019 - Industry Day General Session (unclassified and classified)
- Early-January 2020 - Prime Performer One-on-Ones (classified)
- January 28: Release Draft Request for Prototype Proposal (DRPP) & System Requirements Document (SRD)
- February 4-8: Industry Day one-on-one sessions
- Early April: Release Final Request for Prototype Proposal
MDA conducted an unclassified general session, followed by a classified general session and Prime Performer one-on-one meetings. MDA hosted both an unclassified and a classified General Session. These discussions will be held at MDA, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama 35898. The requirements discussion portion of the general session, as well as industry one-on-ones, were classified. Participants must have a SECRET clearance and the ability to provide necessary Visitor Access Request information to support the classified portions of the Industry day (see attachment for instructions).
MDA intends to issue a Technical Data Library containing threat data, trajectories and other technical data. Potential Prime Performers must have a facility clearance with the ability to access classified information, in accordance with DoD 5220.22-M, “National Industry Security Program Operating Manual,” dated February 28, 2006, and thus companies under foreign ownership, control or influence (FOCI) will be excluded from performing under the prototype project agreement. A company was considered under FOCI whenever a foreign interest has direct power or indirect power, whether or not exercised, and whether or not exercisable through the ownership of the U.S. company’s securities, by contractual arrangement or other means, to direct or decide matters affecting the management of operations of that company in a manner which may result in unauthorized access to classified information or may adversely affect the performance of classified contracts and agreements. Responsibility lies with the potential Prime Performer to ensure that its subcontractor(s), entities proposed to perform under an Intercompany Work Transfer Agreement (IWTA), non-traditional defense contractors, vendors and suppliers that require access to classified information are not restricted from participating in this acquisition due to FOCI.
Draft Request for Prototype Proposal (DRPP) HQ0854-20-DV-OTA-01 was provided to initiate dialogue on the RGPWS requirement. This document was a draft, and may differ significantly from any final product. The SRD was available upon request (and proper authorization). MDA requests that initial questions or comments regarding the DRPP/SRD be sent to RGPWS-Information@MDA.mil no later than 03 February 2020 @ 0700CST, to support meaningful one-on-one sessions.
Innovation and rapid technology advances are occurring throughout hypersonic weapon industry, especially in companies with agile development and deployment processes. Partnerships with commercial industry and others will be used to leverage these approaches. Collaboration and prototype development under this Prototype OT Agreement will reduce risk through early determination of technology with continuous design improvements and technology refresh rates to maximize the Probability of Kill (Pk) from new technology.
The Government will select one or more offerors with the most advantageous solutions for agreement negotiation using a four-step approach: Step I: White Paper Submission; Step II: Oral Presentation; Step III: Negotiations; Step IV: Agreement Award. In cases where the Government and the selected offeror cannot come to agreement on the agreement terms and conditions, the Government may choose to negotiate with the next most advantageous offeror that was not initially selected for negotiation. Negotiations may result in the award of none, one or multiple awards. Companies may submit more than one proposal. This agreement opportunity was fully opened to offerors capable of producing and meeting the requirements outlined in the RPP and System Requirements Document (SRD).
This agreement was NOT governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Government strives to provide flexibility in the use of commercial terms and conditions. However, there are a number non-negotiable terms and conditions that are based on law, process limitations, or other reasons. These will be specifically annotated in the proposed terms and conditions (Attachment 1) accompanying this RPP. Taking exception to any of the terms and conditions annotated as mandatory may jeopardize the Government’s ability to award an agreement. The RGPWS Scope of Work will consist of a technology development and demonstration prototype experiment, involving the design and development of prototype interceptors that, if supported by necessary fire control and sensors, would be capable of engaging regional-class hypersonic threats during their glide phase of flight. MDA’s intent with regard to RGPWS was to reduce technology and integration risks with two (2) Progress Reviews and one (1) Gate Review for each Period.
The objective of the RGPWS effort was to mitigate the design risks for a future fielded regional glide phase interceptor by demonstrating the interceptor in flight test experiment(s) prior to final product development. The detailed objectives provided are to be used in the development of a CSOW and are segregated into programmatic, acquisition, and technical objectives for the RGPWS effort.
Final Design Review - Flight Experiment (Period 3, Gate 3): (FDR) The Contractor shall plan and execute all activities necessary to develop and deliver a detailed Interceptor Design for the Flight Experiment. The FDR confirms that the maturity of the design was appropriate to support proceeding and that it was developed in conjunction with stakeholders, demonstrates that the design meets detailed requirements, and identifies open design issues for the purpose of obtaining a Government decision to proceed with building, testing, and execution of the Flight Experiment. Final detailed plans for execution of the build, test and Flight Experiment period shall be included in the FDR including component selection and plan for qualification testing.
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