Raytheon, Northrop Grumman move forward on Glide Phase Intercept (GPI) hypersonic missile defense project

Nov. 20, 2023
GPI is for regional hypersonic missile defense by launching modified missiles from U.S. Navy surface warships against incoming hypersonic missiles.

DAHLGREN, Va. – Two U.S. military prime contractors are moving forward on in a major project to defend military assets from hypersonic missiles with weapons designed to attack these incoming missiles in their most vulnerable phase of flight.

Officials of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Dahlgren, Va., announced two multimillion-dollar orders last week for the Glide Phase Intercept (GPI) program.

Missile-defense experts from Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Technologies Corp. (RTX) will continue to develop and refine their GPI concept during the technology development phase. The two companies have been working on defining GPI concepts since late 2021.

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GPI is to provide regional hypersonic missile defense by launching specially modified missiles from U.S. Navy surface warships that engage and destroy incoming hypersonic missiles as they glide through the boundary between space and Earth's atmosphere. Hypersonic missiles can reach speeds faster than Mach 5, which is nearly 4,000 miles per hour.

These orders went to the Northrop Grumman Propulsion Systems segment in Chandler, Ariz., for $52.5 million; and to the RTX Raytheon segment in Tucson, Ariz., for $52.5 million. The companies will continue to develop and refine their GPI concept during technology development.

The GPI interceptor will fire from the vertical launch systems aboard Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to intercept incoming hypersonic missiles in their glide phase of flight. GPI will bridge the gap between the Navy SM-3 and SM-6 missiles, which attack enemy missiles at various phases of their flights.

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The GPI prototypes will be designed will fit into the current Aegis ballistic missile defense system” which fires from a naval vessel’s vertical launching system. The GPI will involve new interceptors and modifications to the Aegis weapon system necessary to launch them.

On these orders, Northrop Grumman will do the work in Chandler, Ariz.; Colorado Springs and Boulder, Colo.; Huntsville, Ala.; San Diego; and Linthicum, Md. Raytheon will do its work in Tucson, Ariz.; El Dorado Hills, Calif.; Aurora, Colo.; Tewksbury, Woburn, and Andover, Mass.; McKinney, Texas; and Huntsville, Ala. Both companies should be finished by February 2025.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Propulsion Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com/space/propulsion-systems, RTX Raytheon at www.rtx.com/raytheon, or the Missile Defense Agency at www.mda.mil.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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