Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Boeing says it has completed its first key review with the U.S. Air Force as part of its redesign of the intercontinental ballistic missile system, which is part of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, program.
The company said Thursday that the Air Force has "validated program technical requirements" prior to entering the design and development stage of the GBSD, which is expected to replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.
Boeing completed the System Requirements Review about two months after being awarded a $349 million deal to develop the next generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Northrop Grumman is also working on the Minuteman replacement, having received a $328.6 million contract from the Department of Defense for the project at the same time as Boeing. The contracts run until Aug. 20, 2020, when one of the two companies will be selected to finish the program. The two companies, as well as Lockheed Martin, have been competing to develop the new missile.
"The Air Force set clear system design requirements early in the acquisition process," Frank McCall, Boeing's director of Strategic Deterrence Systems and GBSD program manager, said in a press release. "Thanks to this straightforward guidance, the Boeing team was able to focus on options that would meet those requirements and provide the capability needed to deter an evolving threat."
"We concentrated on modularity and affordability to enable efficient government ownership of the system through 2075 and beyond," said McCall.
Boeing's approach to the GBSD program completely replaces the entire ICBM system, the company says. This includes new flight systems, a new command and control system for the ballistic missile, and integrating Boeing's new technology into existing Minuteman silos.
The company says they will move into a "series of cost-capability studies, weighing affordability against configuration options to come up with a GBSD solution that is capable, flexible and affordable."
The U.S. Air Force says it maintains about 400 Minuteman-III missiles, which are located at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.