Aerojet Rocketdyne has tested a full-scale advanced solid rocket motor, part of phase 2 of the Operational Fires (OpFires) program, a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) effort to develop a ground-launched tactical hypersonic weapon.
During the successful static test at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, the company demonstrated the variable-range technology that will enable OpFires to provide the military with intermediate-range missile capability.
The OpFires program is intended to use a mobile missile launcher to deliver a hypersonic boost-glide weapon, capable of engaging targets from standoff range through heavily defended airspace.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has been preparing for production capacity of hypersonic propulsion systems through its new Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, a new Engineering, Manufacturing and Development facility in Arkansas and growing capabilities at its 3DMT facility in Florida.
The company is known for its work in hypersonic weaponry. In February, 2020, Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded a contract worth up to $19.6 million from DARPA to develop technologies for the hypersonic defense interceptor, known as Glide Breaker. The program’s goal is to counter hypersonic vehicles, specifically hypersonic threats in the upper atmosphere.
Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies both solid-fueled and air-breathing propulsion systems for hypersonic flight. The company delivered both types of systems for the joint Air Force-DARPA-NASA X-51A WaveRider, which completed the first practical hypersonic flight of a hydrocarbon-fueled and -cooled scramjet-powered vehicle.