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United Launch Alliance joint-venture agreement expires

10 May 2017

Key Points

  • ULA's 2005 joint-venture agreement expires
  • Could affect business between the Pentagon and its two largest contractors

The 2005 joint-venture master agreement between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that created the United Launch Alliance (ULA) expired this month, according to a key US Air Force (USAF) official.

The original 2005 joint-venture master agreement between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that created United Launch Alliance (ULA) expired earlier this month. This could affect business between the Pentagon and its two largest contractors. (ULA)The original 2005 joint-venture master agreement between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that created United Launch Alliance (ULA) expired earlier this month. This could affect business between the Pentagon and its two largest contractors. (ULA)

David Hardy, associate deputy under secretary of the Air Force for space, and the deputy director, principal Defence Department space advisor staff, said on 9 May that he was the compliance officer for the agreement and that the Pentagon no longer has oversight duties now that the agreement has expired. He told Jane's these oversight duties included compliance requirements to what communications and relationships the two parent companies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, could have with ULA, their joint venture.

Neither ULA nor the USAF, the US government's space launch provider, returned requests for comment about whether the expiration of the agreement would affect business between the USAF and ULA. Since its founding in 2005, ULA has provided the vast majority of USAF launches.

The agreement, dated 2 May 2005, hammered out simple issues such as the name of the company, where it would be based, and that each company would control 50% of membership interests. It also gets into details such as how the board of directors would be filled, who would serve as board chairman, a non-compete agreement, and dispute resolution.

On 2 May 2005, Boeing and Lockheed Martin announced their intention to form ULA to provide launch services for the US government. The two companies would combine the production, engineering, test, and launch operations associated with government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets, according to ULA.

The joint venture was controversial at the time because it created a monopoly, as Boeing and Lockheed Martin were the only two suppliers of US government medium- to heavy-launch services.

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