The U.S. Air Force has contracted Lockheed Martin Corp. to design, engineer, and manufacture a “low technical risk and affordable” re-entry vehicle for Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles. The $996.2-million contract for the Mk21A Reentry Vehicle program is drawing an initial $26.6 million from the Dept. of Defense’s FY 2024 budget, but the overall development of the RV is expected to continue through October 2039.
The work will be conducted by Lockheed at King of Prussia, Penn.
Lockheed won the order on a single-source basis following completion of an earlier three-year, $108-million assignment by the USAF to devise a “technically low risk and affordable solution to modify existing Mk21 reentry vehicles” to deliver warheads for the U.S. Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent Weapon System.
The LGM-35 Sentinel land-based intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM) system is in development now by Northrop Grumman (with multiple subcontractors, including Lockheed) to replace the Minuteman III missile system, the current ground-based ICBM.
The reentry vehicle will be the part of the missile that carries its payload, a nuclear warhead.
The Sentinel program is foreseen becoming active later this decade, with a service life projected from 2029 to 2075.