Defense bill includes specifications for ICBM deployment levels, requirements for GBSD system

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act has passed both the U.S. House and Senate and is headed to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

The bill includes several provisions related to the intercontinental ballistic missile force and a 2.4 percent pay raise for service members.

The NDAA sets funding levels and policies for the Department of Defense. Coupled with the defense appropriations bill, the legislation sets budgets for the DoD.

“Our country is only as strong as the folks who defend it,” Sen. Jon Tester said in a release. “So, by investing in pay raises for our troops and ensuring our veterans get the care they deserve, this bipartisan bill does right by our men and women in uniform and bolsters the safety and security of our nation.”

The NDAA specifically prohibits the DoD from reducing, or preparing to reduce, the quantity of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles of the United States to a number less than 400.

Though there are exceptions for maintenance or sustainment of ICBMs; ensuring the safety, security, or reliability of intercontinental ballistic missiles; or complying with the limitations of New START, the strategic arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

ICBMs undergoing first round of depot maintenance

The 2018 NDAA also specifies that the Air Force may not award a contract for engineering and manufacturing development for the ground-based strategic deterrent program that would result in a command and control concept that consists of less than 15 fixed launch control centers per missile wing unless the commander of U. S. Strategic Command determines that plans for less LCCs are appropriate, meet requirements and don’t pose excessive risk; risks to schedules and costs from such concept are minimized and manageable; the Air Force strategy and plan for addressing cyber threats for such concept are robust; and the Air Force has established an appropriate process for considering and managing trade-offs among requirements relating to survivability, long-term operations and sustainment costs, procurement costs, and military personnel needs; and submits, in writing, to the Secretary of Defense and the congressional defense committees such determination.

Air Force awards two contracts for Minuteman III ICBM replacement

But the requirement should not be construed to affect or prohibit the ability of the Air Force to use fair and open competition procedures in the GBSD procurement program, according to the NDAA.

The law also prohibits using any funds for developing a mobile variant of GBSD.

The NDAA includes $6.3 million for the procurement of certain parts of intercontinental ballistic missile fuzes, as well as $178,991,000 for ICBM fuze modernization; $80,109,000 for Minuteman III modifications; and $210,845,000 for Minuteman squadron upgrades.

The bill authorizes $215.7 million for research and development for the ground based strategic deterrent; authorizes an additional $175 million to support the modernization of the nuclear triad; authorizes $58 million for active defenses to counter ground-launched missile systems in direct response to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Also included is $108,617,000 for the UH-1N Huey replacement program.

Bids to replace the aging helicopters that are flown over the missile complexes, including Malmstrom’s, were due earlier this year.

The Huey currently in service at all intercontinental ballistic missile bases was manufactured by Bell/Textron Inc. and is the military version of the original Huey, first designed and flown in 1956, according to the Air Force. The Hueys are also used for VIP transport in the Washington, D.C. region.

Tester visits Malmstrom, says base can withstand a BRAC round and supports infrastructure upgrades

The Air Force is expected to award a contract next spring with initial operational fielding beginning in fiscal year 2020 or 2021, after a period of developmental and operations tests, according to Capt. Emily Grabowski, an Air Force spokeswoman. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The program is capped at $4.1 billion and includes production and sustainment transition support, Grabowski said.