Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Air Force & Lockheed Martin report flight test of future ICBM reentry vehicle


June 19, 2024

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Lockheed Martin artist rendering of Mk21A in flight. Credit: Lockheed Martin.

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) conducted a planned flight test of the unarmed, developmental Mk21A reentry vehicle -- which will serve as the front-end of the USAF's future intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapon system --  in the Pacific Ocean during mid-June 2024. 

According to the report from Lockheed Martin, the flight test out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California tested Lockheed Martin’s Mk21A design components and technologies for the vehicle. Lockheed Martin is working to mature its Mk21A design, which includes the arming and fuzing subsystem and support equipment, using advanced digital modeling and simulation tools. The use of these tools, say company officials, enables schedule efficiency, lowered cost and risk, and increased confidence in system performance.

In the release, Jay Watson, vice president of Strategic Reentry at Lockheed Martin, called the delivery of the matured Mk21A a crucial piece of the so-called deterrent triad, which is defined as the U.S. capability of land-based ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and strategic bombers carrying nuclear bombs and missiles.

The testing and maturing of the Mk21A vehicle is being done through Lockheed Martin’s Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract with the Air Force Nuclear Systems Center, with data collected during testing intended to further inform Mk21A design and future flight-test activities.

Featured Companies

Lockheed Martin

6801 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD 20817

U.S. Air Force

1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670