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DARPA issues BAA for OpFires Phase 3 Integrated Weapon System design

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Tactical Technology Office (TTO) on 5 June issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Phase 3 of the Operational Fires (OpFires) Integrated Weapon System programme.

OpFires is a joint DARPA/US Army three-phase development initiative for a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapon delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges, underpinning which is a current imperative to develop and exploit hypersonic weapons technologies. According to DARPA, “the overarching goal of the OpFires programme is 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”.

Artist's concept of Operational Fires. (DARPA)

Artist's concept of Operational Fires. (DARPA)

The OpFires programme comprises three main elements: the Propulsion System – referred to as Phase 1–2; the Integrated Weapon System – Phase 3; and a completed study to inform system and launcher characteristics.

In September/October 2018, DARPA awarded three separate Phase 1 contracts to Exquadium, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation for the OpFires Propulsion System segment. The two-phased effort is focused on the design and development of advanced booster concepts and technologies: Phase 1: a 12-month programme that includes booster preliminary design and proof-of-concept testing to demonstrate key elements of the propulsion system. Phase 2: a 12-month effort will mature designs to critical design level and culminate in hot/static fire tests of at least two representative booster test articles traceable to an operational booster design. Phase 2 will be a 12-month effort, with six-month milestones, executed by approximately two selected performer teams. Government-furnished information (GFI) resulting from this effort may be provided to OpFires Integrated Weapon System task awardees.

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