Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne to support the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) operational fires (OpFires) programme.

Under the contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will build an advanced solid rocket motor booster for the DARPA’s Phase II hypersonic weapon system.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has already developed and tested a full-scale advanced rocket motor for DARPA in support of Phase II of the OpFires programme.

The company has also conducted a series of tests to demonstrate the ability of solid rocket motor to terminate thrust on command.

Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen Drake said: “We continue to push the envelope in our hypersonic propulsion technologies, whether by developing a high-performance solid rocket motor that can be turned off on command, like for OpFires, or by incorporating additive manufacturing into our air-breathing scramjet engines to improve affordability.”

DARPA’s Operation Fires programme aims to develop a ground-based missile system, which can allow the hypersonic boost glide weapons to pass through the enemy’s air defences.

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By GlobalData

The OpFires programme is also expected to enable hypersonic weapons to hit critical time-sensitive targets with precision from a remote launch platform.

Following the second stage, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control will be leading the integration efforts under the Phase III of the programme.

The Lockheed Martin-led OpFires team, which includes Dynetics, Northrop Grumman and Electronic Concepts & Engineering, is now joined by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The third phase will involve launcher development, missile design and maturation and vehicle integration.