ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Defense contractor Lockheed Martin will team with Alaska's state-owned aerospace corporation to pursue a U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract to maintain and improve the country's ground-based missile defense system, the companies announced Thursday.
The system is designed to defend against intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles, and is a main component of America's overall missile defense system. Interceptor missiles are stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Fairbanks, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Boeing was picked over Lockheed Martin as the original prime contractor for the system. But the Missile Defense Agency on May 14 issued an amended draft request for proposals for a "re-compete."
A final request for proposals is expected this summer, with a five-year contract awarded early next year. The military has valued the contract at about $600 million per year.
Mathew J. Joyce, GMD vice president and program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., said his company offers more than 30 years of experience in missile defense development, production and operations and more than 50 years' experience in strategic weapon system operations.
Teaming with Alaska Aerospace Corp., he said, gives Lockheed Martin a lay of the land in Alaska, a conduit to local suppliers and employees, and a partner that has proved it can launch rockets successfully in a harsh northern environment.
"Each one of their launches must work," Joyce said. "That's what their customers depend on them for. That's what the customer depends on us for. I see a whole lot of synergy."
The state Legislature created Alaska Aerospace in 1991 to develop a high-technology aerospace industry. From its complex in Kodiak, the corporation has successfully launched 14 rockets, including eight in support of missile defense.
Its last launch was in December 2008. Alaska Aerospace has two launches — Air Force satellites — scheduled this year.
The partnership with Lockheed Martin is a key part of the corporation's business plan and will allow it to expand, said Thomas R. Case, president and chief operating officer.
Former President George W. Bush directed the Department of Defense to field an initial set of missile defense capabilities, including GMD, by 2004-05. Boeing in late 2004 installed the first ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely and Vandenberg. Initial components also included high-powered radar based on land and at sea, and a command-and-control system. As of November, there were more than 20 interceptor missiles in the field, according to Boeing's website.
Dale Nash, Alaska Aerospace chief executive officer, said the corporation has wanted to expand in interior Alaska for some time and the partnership will take a different approach to maintaining the ground missile defense system, offering a resident work force. That has not been the case at Fort Greely, he said.
"They're not building houses. They're not spending money. Their family isn't here," Nash said. "That's completely opposite of what's been going on with us in Kodiak."
To wrest the contract from Boeing, Lockheed Martin will try to demonstrate best value to the Defense Department, including a resolution to reliability issues, Joyce said.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin employs about 136,000 people worldwide. It reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.