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Next-Generation Interceptor Award

Next-Generation Interceptor Award: The Future of U.S. Missile Defense

The next-generation interceptor award is critical in shielding the homeland as a part of the U.S. missile defense strategy. It is set to replace the current Ground-Based Interceptors within the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

The U.S. needs to keep investing in missile defense technologies to deal with growing threats against ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missiles. Leaving it unresolved can impact national security and global stability.

In line with this, the NGI program stands as one of the Missile Defense Agency’s most substantial investments, with a budget of $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2024. Its primary goal is to counter and eliminate sophisticated long-range missile threats, including those equipped with multiple warheads or decoys.

Significance of next-generation interceptor award in national security


Significance of next-generation interceptor award in national security

Photo by Gorodenkoff/ Shutterstock


Here’s how developing and deploying next-generation interceptors address the current global security challenges and the increasing complexity of missile threats.


Enhanced missile defense capabilities

The Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI) is a new missile defense system that greatly improves the United States’ ability to protect against long-range missiles launched by adversaries. Unlike its predecessor, the ground-based interceptor (GBI) system, the NGI has multiple kill vehicles.

One interceptor can take out multiple targets at once as a countermeasure from incoming missiles. This upgrade makes the U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system much more effective in deterring threats.

Outpaces modern threats

The NGI addresses the increasing complexity of missile threats. Countries like North Korea and Iran are improving their missile technologies, including ICBMs that can carry multiple warheads and employ advanced countermeasures to avoid interception.

The NGI’s advanced capabilities are meant to stay ahead of these evolving threats, ensuring the U.S. can defend against missile attacks effectively. These technologies include:

  • Lockheed Martin’s digital transformation vision, 1LMX, is closely linked to the NGI program. This initiative leverages digital and model-based engineering tools to facilitate virtual performance testing, increase production capacity, and reduce production times.


  • Lockheed Martin’s NGI Software Factory develops software development tools, workflows, scripts, and environments designed to enhance the NGI framework’s reliability through continuous automated testing.


  • Lockheed Martin’s digital twins, which are digital replicas of each missile, help in model performance and assess the readiness of warfighters in real-world situations.


Supports global security and alliances

The NGI defends the nation against long-range ballistic missile threats from rogue nations. It provides a technologically advanced interceptor and enhances the U.S.’s missile defense capabilities.

Aside from the homeland, the U.S. also manages and operates its missile defense systems on the host nation’s territory. It helps allies deploy their own missile defenses due to budgetary or political constraints.

Read more: What is the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Business Area? 

Who are the contractors for the next-generation interceptor award?


Who are the contractors for the next-generation interceptor?

Photo/ Northrop Grumman

NGI is the comprehensive assessment of homeland defenses of the Department of Defense since 2004. The contract, valued at up to $1.6 billion through the fiscal year 2022, aims to reduce technical and schedule risks by advancing two designs for the NGI.

The DoD has awarded two research contracts to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program. Lockheed Martin collaborates with Aerojet Rocketdyne, while Northrop Grumman has teamed up with Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Meanwhile, Valley Tech Systems, Inc., a Voyager Space company, has been awarded a subcontract worth up to $94 million by Lockheed Martin for NGI’s flight stability. It requires the subcontractor to deliver an advanced solid-propulsion subsystem by 2027.

Finally, in April 2024, Lockheed Martin was selected to develop a new interceptor for the NGI program, making it the sole contractor for the NGI program through flight testing. This decision was based on funding considerations that Lockheed Martin continues to use funds from a 2021 contract.

The Pentagon’s estimated cost of the NGI program is $17.7 billion. It covers upfront costs ($13.1 billion), 21 operational interceptors ($2.3 billion), ten developmental interceptors, and operations and support costs ($2.3 billion).

How to win contracts under the next-generation interceptor program

Lockheed Martin was selected as the sole prime contractor for the next-generation interceptor award. While any opportunity to become the prime contractor for this phase of the program is closed, subcontracting opportunities may still exist for specialized components or services.

Here are some ways government contractors can become subcontractors for defense programs like the next-generation interceptor.

Understand the requirements

The Missile Defense Agency selected Lockheed Martin based on technical maturity, contractor-provided performance data, rigorous design development phase, and early testing efforts. These solutions are exactly what the MDA needed for the NGI program.

To get selected for these kinds of programs, aspiring defense contractors must understand the program’s specific requirements; for example, NGI needs defense missile systems, technical solutions, and operational systems for the U.S. homeland defense strategy.

Form strategic partnerships and subcontractors

Lockheed Martin’s partner for the NGI is Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of L3Harris Technologies. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the primary propulsion for the interceptor that originally designed the liquid propellant systems for the NGI.

This established partnership brings additional expertise and specialization, strengthening the proposal and boosting the project’s success.

Get experience and leverage past performance

Lockheed Martin has a track record of successful missile defense projects, including the terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) system. THAAD is highly effective in intercepting short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats outside and inside the atmosphere.

Projects like THAAD have strengthened Lockheed Martin’s reputation and background in handling complex defense contracts, making them a preferable choice for programs of similar caliber.



How much is the next-generation interceptor contract worth?

The Next Generation Interceptor contracts awarded by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin come with substantial financial commitments.

An independent estimate from the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office indicates that developing the NGI costs approximately $13 billion, with procurement, operation, and sustainment costs adding a little over $2 billion each. This brings the total estimated cost of the program to nearly $18 billion over its lifespan.

What is the next-generation missile?

The next-generation missile interceptor system is a modern missile defense system developed to enhance the United States’ homeland defense capabilities against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). This system is a part of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD)  program to eliminate ballistic missile threats during the midcourse phase of flight, which occurs in space after exiting the Earth’s atmosphere.

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