The Air Force named Lockheed Martin Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. Friday as the finalists for a $1.4 billion contract to build the nation’s next generation of military rockets.
The all-purpose rocket program, dubbed the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, will eventually replace the entire line of medium- and heavy-lift military launch systems - the Delta, Atlas and Titan systems.
In their place would come a single, modular system that could be used in different combinations to carry varying payloads into low, medium or high orbits at 25 percent to 50 percent less cost than current launchers.
Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall said in a Pentagon news conference announcing the winners that the EELV will be used not only for military missions but will also carry NASA and commercial payloads.
The two finalists will continue developing plans for the next 17 months before the Air Force chooses a winner. Each will work under separate, firm fixed price contracts of $60 million.
Passed over in the competition were Boeing Co. of Seattle and Alliant Techsystems of Minneapolis.