Northrop Grumman Corporation met a key manufacturing milestone in August, successfully performing the first insulation and case wind of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) first-stage solid rocket motor. Northrop Grumman performed the insulation wind around a plaster tooling mandrel. The insulation protects the outer casing of the motor from extreme temperatures caused by burning propellant inside the motor. Following insulation is the case wind process, which applies composite material around the insulation to form the outer structure, or shell, of the motor. Northrop Grumman has begun a similar insulation and case wind process for the second-stage motor, as the program team continues on track to the Air Force GBSD schedule.
This first-stage motor will now undergo testing to validate tooling and manufacturing processes as well as pressure-testing to ensure structural design integrity. The new GBSD missile will be a three stage solid rocket motor. Northrop Grumman is building the first and second stage.
“Working closely with the Air Force and nationwide team of industry partners, we continue to make progress to modernize the country’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile system,” said Steve Lunny, vice president, GBSD program, Northrop Grumman. “This manufacturing milestone further demonstrates the maturity of our first-stage solid rocket motor design, manufacturing process, tooling and business systems.”
Northrop Grumman was awarded the GBSD engineering and manufacturing development contract in September 2020 to begin modernizing the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile system. Northrop Grumman is leading a nationwide team that includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, CAE, Clark, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin, and Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the U.S. directly working on this vital national security program. The U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) is the weapon system replacement for the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM). GBSD represents the modernization of the ground-based leg of the nuclear triad.
The U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) is the weapon system replacement for the aging LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM). GBSD represents the modernization of the ground-based leg of the nuclear triad. The Minuteman III first became operational in the early 1970s. While certain components and subsystems have been upgraded, most of the fundamental infrastructure in use today is the original equipment supporting more than 50 years of continuous operation. The Air Force is focused on developing and delivering an integrated weapon system that will meet the combatant commander’s current requirements, while having the adaptability to affordably address changing technology and emerging threats through 2075.