Boeing to perform design work on new ICBM in Alabama

This rendering shows what Boeing's new ICBM could look like. [Photo Credit: Boeing]

The U.S.’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile could be designed in Alabama.

Boeing Co., the aerospace company whose roots in Alabama go back more than half a century, announced Monday that the U.S. Air Force has awarded it a $349 million contract for preliminary design work on a replacement for the Minuteman III ICBM.

Boeing said the work will be performed in Huntsville, as well as other locations including Ogden, Utah, and Heath, Ohio.

Northrop Grumman also received a $349 million contract for the design phase of what’s called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program. The Minuteman III replacement represents the land-based element of the nation’s “nuclear triad,” which includes missiles launched from submarines and aircraft.

In 2020, the Air Force will choose either Boeing or Northrop Grumman to develop the new ICBM.

“Since the first Minuteman launch in 1961, the U.S. Air Force has relied on our technologies for a safe, secure and reliable ICBM force,” said Frank McCall, Boeing director of Strategic Deterrence Systems and GBSD program manager.

“As the Air Force prepares to replace the Minuteman III, we will once again answer the call by drawing on the best of Boeing to deliver the capability, flexibility and affordability the mission requires.”

Alabama presence

Boeing has around 2,700 Alabama employees, with plans to add 400 more by 2020, along with an additional capital investment of $70 million. In Huntsville, the aerospace giant supports a diverse portfolio of missile defense and space exploration programs.

The company first established a presence in Huntsville in 1962 to support the new U.S. space programs, and today the local operations provide a wide variety of innovations and capabilities for both the commercial and defense sectors.

In Huntsville, Boeing supports the Ground Based Midcourse Missile Defense system, which this year intercepted a mock ICBM during a test. It’s also expanding a manufacturing facility that produces Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile seekers.

In addition, Boeing operates an aircraft Design Center and a Research & Technology Center, while also performing key roles in the development of NASA’s Space Launch System, its next-generation rocket.

“Boeing’s continued growth in Alabama is a testament to the company’s strategic vision, as well as the skillful execution by its workforce in the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Boeing innovation in Alabama is key to our nation’s defense and space programs, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement on the announcement.

“I am proud that the U.S. Air Force has chosen Boeing to develop our nation’s next intercontinental ballistic missile and that Boeing plans to complete some of that project here in Alabama,” Ivey said. “This announcement is a testament to the fantastic work that Boeing does and serves to strengthen the bond between that great company and this great state. Boeing’s continued growth and success is a sign that Huntsville, and all of Alabama, is on the forefront of aerospace innovation and in protecting our nation.”

A recent economic impact study showed the company contributes more than $2 billion annually to the state’s economy and sustains nearly 8,400 direct and indirect jobs.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.