The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lockheed Martin a US$31.9 million ($46.1 million) contract for the Operational Fires (OpFires) Phase 3 Weapon System Integration program.
OpFires seeks to develop and demonstrate an innovative ground-launched system to enable a hypersonic boost glide missile system to penetrate modern enemy air defences and rapidly engage time-sensitive targets.
Lockheed Martin, DARPA and the US Army, aims to develop and demonstrate an innovative, ground-launched, mobile, integrated weapon system that leverages DARPA-funded propulsion solutions and hypersonic boost glide technology.
The award for Phase 3 of the OpFires program will take the design from the initial requirements development through the Critical Design Review (CDR) in late 2021. Integrated flight testing is scheduled to begin in 2022, with component and subsystem tests expected in 2021.
Hady Mourad, director of tactical and strike missiles advanced programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said, "The OpFires missile is critical to providing the US Army with a highly manoeuvrable and rapid response solution capable of operating from unpredictable land-launch positions to suppress hostile threats."
Hypersonic weapons will provide a survivable and affordable capability that will overcome distance in contested environments using high speed, altitude and manoeuvrability. They amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility and precision.
"Lockheed Martin will deliver the prototype missiles utilizing the experienced production teams that currently produce the ATACMS, GMLRS and PAC-3 missile systems in Camden, Arkansas," Mourad added.
Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defence systems against emerging hypersonic threats and is supporting all branches of the US military on these hypersonic programs.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.