Aerojet Rocketdyne announced Dec. 2 that it has been awarded a contract under the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Propulsion Applications Program to demonstrate a Medium Class Stage III motor with propulsion technologies that are applicable to multiple future common strategic propulsion systems.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is a GenCorp company.
The contract includes development, fabrication and demonstration of a full-scale motor that is designed to replace the aging SR-73 third stage motors in the current Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. A full scale static test of the motor including thrust termination demonstration is planned.
“This is an important win for Aerojet Rocketdyne,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President of Missile Defense and Strategic Systems, Michael Bright. “It helps maintain critical industrial base capability in solid rocket motor design and development, and provides a cost competitive strategy to sustain the aging Minuteman III missile.”
Over the last decade, Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Air Force have successfully demonstrated the concept of Minuteman III modernization using sustainable, affordable propulsion through prior PAP contract activities. This new program will leverage these prior accomplishments to provide a direct replacement solution option for the currently fielded Minuteman III stage III motors. The program will also help sustain the U.S. solid rocket motor industrial base, by employing common, domestically sourced components and materials, and a carbon fiber/resin system for the composite case. Work will be performed at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facilities in Sacramento, Calif.; Clearfield, Utah, and Gainesville, Va.
The primary objective of PAP is to provide a family of affordable, sustainable motors that can support a wide range of potential Air Force solutions, including modernizing or replacing Minuteman III. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s approach also is applicable to other critical Department of Defense missions such as increased-realism threat targets for the Missile Defense Agency’s missile defense systems testing.