Lockheed Martin Receives $32M Contract for DARPA OpFires Integrated Weapon System Phase 3 Program

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has been awarded a $32 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support the Operational Fires (OpFires) Integrated Weapon System Phase 3 program.

The OpFires Phase 3 program will enable capabilities for a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapon delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges.

Fiscal 2019 and 2020 research and development funds in the amount of $12.92 million are being obligated at the time of award (HR0011-20-C-0038). Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas (68%); Huntsville, Alabama (21%); Toledo, Ohio (5%); Elkton, West Virginia (5%); Kirkland, Washington (less than 1%); and Camden, Arkansas (less than 1%) with an estimated completion date of January 2021.

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 award for Phase 3 of the OpFires program 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.

“The OpFires missile is critical to providing the U.S. Army with a highly maneuverable and rapid response solution capable of operating from unpredictable land-launch positions to suppress hostile threats,” said Hady Mourad, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Lockheed Martin will deliver the prototype missiles utilizing the experienced production teams that currently produce the ATACMS, GMLRS and PAC-3 missile systems in Camden, Arkansas.”

DARPA/U.S. Army OpFires Program

OpFires, a joint DARPA/U.S. Army program, aims to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched missile system equipped with hypersonic tactical boost glide vehicles that can penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets in contested environments.

The first two phases of the program focus on the propulsion technologies required to deliver diverse payloads a variety of ranges.

Phase 1 of the program is 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 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 late last year with the completion of the booster preliminary design review of the two-stage tactical missile system.

Phase 2 of the OpFires program will mature designs and demonstrate performance with hot/static fire tests targeted for late 2020.

The OpFires Phase 3 will focus 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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