DARPA’s OpFires Ground-Launched Hypersonics Program Enters New Phase

DARPA’s OpFires (Operational Fires) program, which is developing a ground-launched intermediate-range hypersonic weapons system, is advancing to a new phase.

Phase 3b will involve full-scale missile fabrication, assembly, and flight testing from a launch vehicle. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control was awarded this new contract modification after leading a successful Phase 3a integrated system preliminary design review that resulted in a comprehensive design and test plan.

“The objectives of DARPA’s OpFires program remain unchanged. The system design that Lockheed is developing continues to achieve the desired tactical mobility and system performance in line with the Department of Defense’s push to deliver an intermediate-range surface-to-surface missile,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Stults, the DARPA program manager for OpFires in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.

OpFires aims to demonstrate a novel system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to rapidly and precisely engage critical, time-sensitive targets while penetrating modern enemy air defenses. The program is developing an advanced booster capable of delivering a variety of payloads at multiple ranges and compatible mobile ground launch platforms that can be rapidly deployed.

In October, Lockheed Martin announced its initial round of key subcontractors selected to be part of team working on the OpFires Phase Three Weapon System Integration program. The companies selected were Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, and Electronic Concepts & Engineering, Inc (ECE).

Specifically, the new subcontractors on the program will support the technology development in the following ways:

• Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Md., will develop the stage one solid rocket motor;
• Dynetics in Huntsville, Ala., will deliver the cannister, all up round and fins, and support integration and test; and
• ECE, a small business based in Holland, Ohio, will provide the booster power pyro module.



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