In July 2016, the U.S. Air Force released a request for proposals for its Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system program. The GBSD program is focused on developing and delivering an integrated weapon system that includes launch and command and control segments to replace the existing fleet of LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Deployment is projected to begin in the late 2020s.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has a long history supporting strategic system boost and post-boost propulsion. In fact, Aerojet Rocketdyne systems have been on every U.S. ICBM ever flown or fielded. The company was the original equipment manufacturer for boost stage two and three solid rocket motors (SRM) and the post-boost propulsion system on the Minuteman III program. Aerojet Rocketdyne completed the most recent life extension effort for the Minuteman III post boost control system in 2014, and continues to provide sustaining engineering support to the U.S. Air Force.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has supported recent strategic propulsion research and development activities for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy that were focused on advancing technology and keeping sharp the engineering and manufacturing skills associated with designing large SRMs. Aerojet Rocketdyne has augmented this investment using its own discretionary resources to develop technology—such as new materials for cases and nozzles, new propellants and low-cost design approaches—that has direct applicability to the GBSD program.
Timeline of Aerojet Rocketdyne Technology Development Efforts related to strategic SRMs:
- July 2009: USAF PAP Stage 2 SRM live fire demo (sea level)
- September 2009: USAF PAP Stage 2 SRM live fire demo (simulated altitude)
- March 2010: USAF PAP Stage 3 SRM live fire demo (simulated altitude)
- August 2012: USAF PAP Stage 3 / LEO-7 SRM live fire demo (sea level)
- September 2013: LEO-1 live fire demo (sea level)
- February 2014: USAF PAP Large Class Stage 2 live fire demo (sea level)
- June 2014: USAF PAP Large Class Stage 2 live fire demo (simulated altitude)
- August 2014: LEO-46 live fire demo (sea level)