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Aerojet Rocketdyne completes OpFires Phase 2 full-scale static propulsion test

Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully tested its advanced second-stage solid rocket motor as part of an ongoing series of static propulsion tests in support of Phase 2 of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/US Army Operational Fires (OpFires) surface-to-surface tactical hypersonic weapon system development programme.

Conducted in May at the US Army's Redstone Test Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, in support of its Phase 2 contractual obligations, the test follows the successful completion of earlier Phase 2 cold gas testing of booster test articles, which were disclosed in July 2020, and a series of Phase 1 subscale propulsion-system test firings in late 2019.

The Aerojet Rocketdyne solution provides for a high-performance, solid-fuel ‘throttleable' rocket motor that can be turned off before burning through all of its fuel, potentially allowing a missile to hit targets located anywhere within a medium-range continuum. The test “achieved the primary objective of demonstrating the technology that allows on-demand thrust termination. This capability, combined with the booster's volumetric efficiency, will help advance the realisation of hypersonic missiles that can adjust on the fly”, DARPA said in a statement.

“The completion of the initial second-stage booster test firing is an important step towards the goal of an advanced system that can precisely deliver a variety of conventional payloads to targets over a wide range of distances,” said US Army Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Stults, program manager for OpFires in DARPA's Tactical Technology Office.

Artist's concept of Operational Fires (DARPA)

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