Orbital ATK has successfully completed three consecutive ground-based static firings of an air-launched high-performance propellant rocket motor for tactical missiles.

Being the first and one of the largest of its kind, the rocket motor has been designed, developed and static-tested at hot and cold extreme conditions.

The current test successfully demonstrates materials and technologies applicable to future air-launched, high-speed weapon systems.

Orbital ATK Defense Systems Group missile products vice-president and general manager Pat Nolan said: “Using Orbital ATK’s expertise in air-launched propulsion development and production, we were first to succeed at testing a motor of this size in three simulated air-launch environments, confirming our readiness to move forward to the next stages of booster qualification.

“These are great strides towards improving our high-speed weapon systems, which are critical to enhancing our warfighter’s safety, as well as their capabilities for greater standoff and quicker time to target.”

“We were first to succeed at testing a motor of this size in three simulated air-launch environments.”

The rocket motor tested by the company comprises a high-performance propellant in a large, lightweight composite case.

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The composite case is said to help significantly reduce the inert weight ratio over a conventional metal casing, in addition to incorporating integral launcher attachment and payload interface features designed to withstand captive carry and flight environments.

The tests, which were carried out under a contract with the US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), were completed over a three-week period at Orbital ATK’s tactical propulsion centre of excellence at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia.

The tests validated motor performance at both the hot and cold temperature extremes required by air-launch tactical missiles and boosters.