Utilizing technology from Standard Missile allows RMD to spend more time reducing risk and refining the design for GPI’s evolving, critical technologies. “We’re leveraging as much as we possibly can from our prior and current SM programs, so we can focus on the aspects that are unique to GPI,” Leeman said.
Plus, the team is drawing on digital technologies—models, requirements derivations, test workbooks, software and simulations—to help design the new interceptor. “As we build GPI, we’re doing it in a digital way that links its systems,” Leeman said. “A great example of how that’s propelling our work was when we got a new version of the MDA’s requirements, we were able to implement that in our systems by the push of a button. That propels our GPI program.”
Integration and the human factor
In its requirements for GPI development, the MDA has stipulated that “any prototypes designed will fit into the current Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system” which fires from a naval vessel’s vertical launching system.
Here, again, RMD has a key advantage: Its capabilities have been integrated with that system for 18 years. “Our Standard Missiles and Aegis are already tightly coupled,” Leeman said. “They talk to each other; they exchange messages with each other. We’re able to tweak and reuse a lot of that interface for GPI.”
But there’s more than interceptor technology and systems at stake in a successful ship-based launch. There’s also the safety of those on board.
“Shipboard qualification and the ship environment are unique because the ship carries human life,” Leeman said. “So, safety boards and the qualification process are very involved, very rigorous … to protect everyone on the ship. We’re now bringing that commitment to the development of the new Glide Phase Interceptor.”