Next Steps to Include Flight-Testing
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a contract modification to Lockheed Martin Missile & Fire Control to advance its OPERATIONAL FIRES (OpFires) programme to the next stage – Phase 3b, the agency announced in mid-January.
The new phase for the programme, which seeks to develop a ground-launched intermediate-range hypersonic weapon system, will involve full-scale missile fabrication, assembly, and flight-testing from a launch vehicle and follows Lockheed Martin’s successful completion of the Phase 3a integrated system preliminary design review.
“The objectives of DARPA’s OpFires program remain unchanged. The system design that Lockheed is developing continues to achieve the desired tactical mobility and system performance in line with the Department of Defense’s push to deliver an intermediate-range surface-to-surface missile,” explained Lt Col Joshua Stults, DARPA Program Manager for OpFires.
The programme aims to demonstrate a novel system enabling hypersonic boost glide weapons to rapidly and precisely engage critical, time-sensitive targets while penetrating modern enemy air defences. The programme is developing an advanced booster capable of delivering a variety of payloads at multiple ranges, and compatible mobile ground-launch platforms that can be rapidly deployed.