The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 14 January announced the award to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control of a USD31.9 million contract for the Phase 3 Integrated Weapon System component of the Operational Fires (OpFires) programme.
"The joint DARPA/US Army Operational Fires (OpFires) programme is [now] moving into Phase 3 to further develop and integrate ongoing propulsion system designs into a missile system, including the launcher, electronics, and payload," DARPA said in a 14 January statement.
OpFires is a joint DARPA/US Army initiative 'to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system, enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defences and rapidly and precisely engage critical time-sensitive targets from a highly mobile launch platform'.
The Phase 3 award, which follows a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) issued by DARPA's Tactical Technology Office (TTO) for the Phase 3 development in June 2019, moves the system design from the initial requirements development through to Critical Design Review (CDR) in late 2021. Integrated flight testing is scheduled to begin in 2022, with component and subsystem tests expected in 2021. "Lockheed Martin will deliver the prototype missiles utilising the experienced production teams that currently produce the ATACMS, GMLRS, and PAC-3 missile systems in Camden, Arkansas," said Hady Mourad, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in a statement on 15 January.
The OpFires programme is comprised of three main development components: the Propulsion System - referred to as Phase(s) 1 and 2; the Integrated Weapon System (Phase 3); and a completed study to inform system and launcher characteristics.
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