New US Army’s hypersonic weapon rendering released by Lockheed Martin
Oct 22, 2021
Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier Lockheed Martin Corp. has released a new artist’s rendering of the newest hypersonic weapon system.
It’s called the Operational Fires (OpFires) weapon system and the Army is working on it, together with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In early 2020, Lockheed Martin began work on OpFires weapon system integration under a DARPA contract.
OpFires is an innovative ground-launched system that enables a hypersonic boost glide missile system to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly engage time-sensitive targets.
Hypersonic missiles typically go one speed: as fast as they can. OpFires features a unique throttleable booster rocket motor that can vary its thrust to deliver payloads across the medium-range spectrum without energy bleed maneuvers. Less time in the air enhances survivability and mission success.
As noted by the company, a throttleable motor and off-road operability make the hypersonic OpFires system the ideal counter to the medium-range threat.
OpFires is designed with the soldier in mind. For the user, it operates off-road, supports rapid loading and reloading and can shoot and scoot within minutes. And it travels light.
“OpFires goes where the warfighter goes,” said Tactical Missiles Advanced Programs Director Steven Botwinik. “It’s transportable by C-130 and deploys without an entourage of unique support systems like cranes, radars and cooling and heating systems.”
For the maintainer, it offers flexibility. Lockheed Martin is integrating OpFires with existing logistics vehicle fleets. The self-contained OpFires system is designed to integrate with the Palletized Load System, enabling them to transform into an OpFires launcher within minutes—and back again—with no specialized tools or vehicle re-configuration.
OpFires engineers are designing OpFires with affordability in mind by reusing proven precision fires subsystems. For example, they are adapting proven High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) electronics and precision fires subsystems for interoperability with U.S. Army Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System infrastructure.
“In the short term, this commonality approach speeds development while reducing development cost and risk,” Botwinik said. “Over the long term it delivers substantial cost savings because all vested programs benefit when one of them upgrades a shared subsystem.”
Lockheed Martin and its government and industry partners are on track to begin integrated flight testing in late 2021.