The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has concluded preliminary design review efforts for a tactical missile system booster under a multi-phase initiative. DARPA said Friday that the Operational Fires program seeks to build and test a ground-launched hypersonic weapon that can defeat time-sensitive targets.
OpFires’ first phase will cover propulsion technologies for various payload types, while the second phase will feature developmental activities and static fire tests in 2020. The program’s third phase will focus on the design of an operational system based on propulsion concepts. Aerojet Rocketdyne, Exquadrum and Sierra Nevada have landed contracts to develop rocket motor technologies for the weapon’s upper stage.
“The goal for OpFires is to provide the combatant commander with options in force deployment, and allow persistent standoff from unpredictable land-launch positions,” said Maj. Amber Walker, OpFires program manager at DARPA’s Tactical Technological Office.
Walker added the planned propulsion platform will equip ground-to-ground tactical weapons with mission flexibility features.