Lockheed Martin Awarded $58.9M Contract Modification for OpFires Development

Lockheed Martin is being awarded a $58.9 million contract modification by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the development of the integrated OpFires system.

The modification, P00006, is against a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, HR0011-20-C-0038, and is to exercise the contract line item number 0003 option. This includes risk reduction testing to achieve a system-level critical design maturity.

Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research and development funds in the amount of around $18.5 million will be obligated at the time of award. The contract work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas (57%); Huntsville, Alabama (11%); and Elkton, Maryland (32%), with an estimated completion date of January 2022.

Lockheed Martin, DARPA and the U.S. Army, aims to develop and demonstrate an innovative, ground-launched, mobile, integrated weapon system that leverages DARPA-funded propulsion solutions and hypersonic boost glide technology.

The Phase 3 of the OpFires program, for which contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin, will take the design from the initial requirements development through the Critical Design Review (CDR) in late 2021. Integrated flight testing is scheduled to begin in 2022, with component and subsystem tests expected in 2021.

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.

Lockheed Martin OpFires Graphic
Lockheed Martin’s OpFires team is developing a hypersonic boost glide missile system with a unique throttleable booster. Lockheed Martin Photo.

DARPA OpFires Program

DARPA’s Operational Fires (OpFires) program aims to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched missile system equipped with hypersonic tactical boost glide vehicle that can penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time-sensitive targets in contested environments.

DARPA/U.S. Army Operational Fires (OpFires) program
The joint DARPA/U.S. Army Operational Fires (OpFires) program seeks to develop innovative propulsion solutions that will enable a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapons delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges. DARPA Photo.

Phase 1 of the program was a 12-month effort focused on early development and demonstration of booster solutions that provide variable thrust propulsion across robust operational parameters in large tactical missiles. The Phase 1 contracts were awarded to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Exquadrum, and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in 2018.

Since the Phase 1 contract award, the three companies have made critical discoveries in advanced rocket motor technology for the OpFires upper stage, completing more than 30 motor trials from subscale through full size. These advances put the program on track for booster critical design review in late 2020.

Exquadrum completed a full-scale, full-duration test fire on Sept. 19, 2019, which marked the performer’s culminating event for OpFires Phase 1. SNC completed its Phase 1 testing in October, and Aerojet Rocketdyne completed six subscale tests in August.

The OpFires program reached a major program milestone in late 2019 with the completion of the booster preliminary design review of the two-stage tactical missile system.

Phase 3 of the OpFires program is focusing on weapon system integration and aims to develop an operational system design leveraging propulsion systems concepts developed under the first two phases of the program. Phase 3 will conclude with integrated end-to-end flight tests scheduled to begin in 2022.

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