DARPA Takes Mid-Range Hypersonic Missiles Testing to Next Stage

Phase 3b includes full-scale missile fabrication, assembly, and flight testing.
Fabienne Lang
Computer model of OpFires missileDARPA

The U.S.'s DARPA, or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, announced on Monday that it will be moving into its next phase of testing for its ground-launched intermediate-range hypersonic weapons system. 

This next phase, called Phase 3b, involves full-scale missile fabrication, assembly, and flight testing out of a launch vehicle. 

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control won this new contract modification after it showcased its preliminary design and test plan. 


DARPA's Operational Fires program (OpFires) is developing the hypersonic missile system.

"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," said Lt. Col. Joshua Stults, the DARPA program manager for OpFires in a statement.

OpFires' goal is to showcase a new system that enables hypersonic boost glide weapons to quickly and accurately engage dangerous and time-sensitive targets. The program is working on an advanced booster that's able to deliver a number of payloads at different ranges, as well as compatible and mobile ground launch platforms that can quickly be set up and deployed. 

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DARPA has been in operation for 60 years with the mission "to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security." This OpFires program falls under this umbrella, as it pushes forwards DARPA, and the U.S.'s, military and defense advancements.

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