The joint DARPA/U.S. Army Operational Fires (OpFires) program will soon kick off with three performers awarded contracts to begin work: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Exquadrum, and Sierra Nevada Corporation. OpFires aims to develop and demonstrate a novel ground-launched system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly and precisely engage critical time sensitive targets.
OpFires seeks to develop innovative propulsion solutions that will enable a mobile, ground-launched tactical weapons delivery system capable of carrying a variety of payloads to a variety of ranges. Phase 1 of the program will be a 12-month effort focused on early development and demonstration of booster solutions that provide variable thrust propulsion across robust operational parameters in large tactical missiles.
“OpFires represents a critical capability development in support of the Army’s investments in long-range precision fires,” says DARPA’s OpFires program manager, Maj. Amber Walker (U.S. Army). “These awards are the first step in the process to deliver this capability in support of U.S. overmatch.”
The OpFires program will conduct a series of subsystem tests designed to evaluate component design and system compatibility for future tactical operating environments. Phase 2 will mature designs and demonstrate performance with hot/static fire tests targeted for late 2020. Phase 3, which will focus on weapon system integration, will culminate in integrated end-to-end flight tests in 2022.