Feb. 26 (UPI) -- General Dynamics and Raytheon have secured a $502 million contract to operate the U.S. Army's Ronald Reagan ballistic missile defense test site in the South Pacific.
In the joint venture, called Range Generation Next, or RGNext, the two companies will handle ballistic missile launches and missile defense tests at the 750,000-square-mile Pacific Ocean range on the Marshall Islands, Raytheon announced Monday.
It includes radar, telemetry and optical sensors on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In addition, RGNext will operate the Range Operations Center and Space Operations Center in Huntsville, Ala., the Kwajalein Mission Control Center on Kwajalein and the Range Safety Control Center, also on Kwajalein.
Kwajalein Atoll includes more than 1,250 residents, including military personnel, Army civilians, contractor employees and family members. The Army describes Kwajalein Atoll as a "truly a small town" with medical care, religious services, schools and retail.
RGNext was one of four bids received. In September 2018, the Army Contracting Command awarded RGNext $1.3 million from its fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds.
A partnership of Bechtel National and Lockheed Martin managed the Kwajalein test site from 2002 to 2018 across eight islands. More than 1,600 Kwajalein Range Services employees worked at 11 sites across seven time zones, according to Bechtel.
RGNext so far has hired more than 300 engineers, technicians and other launch professionals for mission.
"The Reagan Test Site is used for some of our nation's most important defense programs, from ensuring our ballistic missiles work as designed to proving the capabilities of our missile defense systems," said Todd Probert, vice president at Raytheon IIS. "The Army chose RGNext because we are experts at safely operating launch ranges and bring deep knowledge and experience to support this critical mission."
RGNext also manages rocket launch sites at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Cape Canaveral, Fla.
"RGNext remains focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of mission critical functions for their customers," said Rich Farinacci, vice president of Naval and Training Programs at General Dynamics Information Technology. "RGNext is prepared to help their customers modernize their legacy systems and continue to deliver solutions that advance mission performance."