Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies marked a significant milestone recently with the delivery of its 100,000th AGM-114 tactical motor, the high performance rocket motor that propels the highly successful HELLFIRE® missile. The motor is currently in service with the U.S. Armed Forces as well as 16 other allied nations, and is used on dozens of platforms ranging from helicopters, aircraft, unmanned aircraft, land combat vehicles and combat ships.
For more than three decades, Orbital ATK has designed and manufactured the high performance, minimum-smoke HELLFIRE® missile rocket motor at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) in Rocket Center, West Virginia, and is the sole supplier of the rocket motor used across the entire family of missile variants.
At a ceremony celebrating the milestone earlier this month at Orbital ATK’s ABL facility, Col. Dave Warnick of U.S. Army, Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, Joint Attack Munitions Systems, thanked more than 250 employees and industry partners in attendance who are a part of the HELLFIRE® program. “This is a great program that has continued to deliver a quality tool, at the quantity we need, to do our job and keep American soldiers safe,” said Warnick referring to the increase in demand over the past few years. “The HELLFIRE® is going straight from the factory to the front lines where they are being utilized by our soldiers.”
Mike Kahn, president of Orbital ATK’s Defense Systems Group echoed the sentiment. “Our responsibility to the warfighter drives us to improve and innovate. We are dedicated to deliver the best tactical propulsion and controls products to our customers and continue to invest in our people and facilities to assure readiness and overmatch for the future.”
Orbital ATK is upgrading the current version of the HELLFIRE® rocket motor to include insensitive munitions, called the IM HELLFIRE®. By incorporating reduced sensitivity propellants, low-cost bonded end closure composite cases, and passive thermal mitigation systems, Orbital ATK has developed a system that meets all current propulsion interface requirements for the existing HELLFIRE® and will provide enhanced safety for the warfighter.
Last year, the company broke ground on its new Large Tactical Motor Manufacturing Facility in Rocket Center, West Virginia, which will specialize in IM-Compliant motors and is scheduled to be fully online by summer 2018.
Also in tactical missile propulsion, Orbital ATK is developing rocket pulse motors to operate at extremely cold temperatures that provide increased range and flexibility for both tactical and defense applications. Likewise, the company is demonstrating air-breathing hypersonic propulsion systems that will reduce the time-to-target for tactical missiles while increasing flexibility for the warfighter. The company maintains a number of state-of-the-art hypersonic test facilities along the east coast to expedite development of these groundbreaking capabilities.