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Lockheed Martin awarded a $500M deal for Guam’s missile defense system

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

The Missile Defense Agency has awarded a half-a-billion-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin to develop Guam’s air and ground missile defense system, which is anticipated to be delivered in 2024.

According to a Dec. 28 announcement from the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin is being awarded a sole-source contract worth $527.7 million, with an initial obligation of $11.4 million using fiscal 2023 appropriation for research, development, testing and evaluation.

“The work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, with a period of performance from the time of award through Dec. 31, 2027.”

The department said the contract’s value increases from $811.6 million to $1/2 billion.

“This (contract) expands the performance of the Aegis Weapon System to implement integrated air and missile defense capabilities into an Aegis Guam System."

On March 29, 2022, the Defense Daily reported that the MDA disclosed the architecture it has chosen to defend Guam against air and missile threats including mobile units using the Lockheed Martin Aegis Combat System, Raytheon Technologies Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) and SM-6 missiles, and the Northrop Grumman Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System as well as maintaining the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system already on Guam.

MDA said it plans for an initial incremental delivery of an AG system to a Guam facility by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024 and to receive subsequent deliveries in fiscal years 2026 and 2028. Any competitor other than Lockheed Martin would be required to maintain that schedule.

The newly signed 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which identifies approximately $11.5 billion in investments to back the Department of Defense’s initiatives, requires “increased focus on defending the U.S. homeland and territory from the cruise and ballistic missile threats” while military planners are still looking into “how decisions regarding U.S. missile defense programs are being made.”


The NDAA tasked the defense secretary with creating a federally funded research and development center that can independently assess the Pentagon’s plans to build an integrated air-and-missile defense architecture on Guam. The defense spending policy also requires a strategy from the Pentagon on “how to implement asymmetric capabilities to defeat hypersonic missile threats.”

The Indo-Pacific Command's proposed air defense missile, which is touted to provide 360-degree protection to deter any potential threats to Guam, consists of multiple mobile components, such as a sensor, command and control and interceptors that will be located across the island. The scoping process began last year. A team from the Missile Defense Agency completed the initial survey of potential sites for the elements of the proposed missile defense architecture.

But finding the right locations proved more challenging than anticipated, a defense official said, citing a conflict involving the siting of a radar system adjacent to a proposed hospital.

“There’s a laundry list of lessons learned from assumptions you make before you ever get to the decision, and then reality hits when you’re on the ground, like, this will be tough,” Vice Adm. Jon A. Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said during a webcast hosted by Defense News on Aug. 12.

The NDAA requires the secretary of defense to look into reducing “the risk of the current planned architecture” and to authorize the Missile Defense Agency to “procure three vertical launching systems that are capable of launching standard missile variants."

“Missile defense of Guam is a big deal,” John Plumb, the assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said at a forum hosted Nov. 3 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s going to require persistent layered defenses. We have cruise missile threats. We have ballistic missile threats, general air threats. So, doing that is a big issue, and we are very clearly committed to it.”

China has been amplifying its threat to take Taiwan. Despite the United States' one-China policy, Washington has made clear it would step in to defend the self-governing democratic island.

According to the U.S. House Armed Forces Committee, the NDAA “expresses congressional support for the U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan" and "requires additional measures to improve readiness related to Taiwan." U.S. lawmakers also support the use of joint military exercises with Taiwan, including the 2024 Rim of the Pacific exercise.

If the U.S. were to enter a conflict with China, Guam would be critical to support U.S. operations.

Plumb said the defense of Guam is “clearly about China,” which the Pentagon has marked as the “most challenging competitor” in the Indo-Pacific region. “Just no beating around the bush. That’s what it is. Guam is a power projection hub for us,” he said.

However, defense officials acknowledged that Guam does not have fixed air defenses, other than an ad-hoc system of THAAD systems and Navy ships off its coast with Aegis systems.

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