For August 10, 1998

GenCorp Aerojet wins contract for hypersonic missile engine development

GenCorp Aerojet News Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - GenCorp Aerojet has been awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to design an advanced propulsion system for one of two hypersonic missile concepts being developed by The Boeing Company.

Aerojet will design a dual-combustion ramjet engine that will power an axisymetric missile to cruise speeds of more than six times the speed of sound (Mach 6). The missile will employ a solid rocket booster for acceleration to ramjet take-over speed at about Mach 3.5.

"Aerojet is proud to bring its experience in hypersonic propulsion to the Boeing team and help develop this critical part of our nation's future defense," said Bob Harris, vice president, Strategic and Space Propulsion. Boeing recently signed a $10 million, 18-month "Affordable Rapid Response Missile Demonstrator (ARRMD)" agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a hypersonic missile that can be produced for an average unit flyaway price of only $200,000.

ARRMD is being developed for launch from aircraft, surface ships and submarines to quickly counter time-critical targets, such as newly detected mobile missile launchers, and to effectively penetrate deeply buried command centers. From a safe, standoff range of more than 400 miles, it will be able to deliver a 250-pound payload to within about 30 feet of its target in less than seven minutes.

Boeing's Phantom Works will develop two different missile concepts: a conventional axisymetric vehicle and a flat-shaped "waverider" vehicle, each with different propulsion systems.

Working on the axisymetric missile engine, Aerojet engineers in Sacramento will form an integrated product team (IPT) with Phantom Works personnel in St. Louis, Mo., Seal Beach, Calif., and Duluth, Ga. They will adapt the propulsion system from a ramjet engine originally developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the U.S. Navy.

The second "waverider" ARRMD missile concept will be shaped long, wide and flat, allowing it to ride on its own shock wave for reduced drag. The scramjet engine for this concept is currently being developed by Pratt & Whitney under the U.S. Air Force's HyTech Program.

If ARRMD performance and affordability objectives can be demonstrated under this phase of the agreement, DARPA plans to continue with a 30-month producibility and flight test demonstration program with one or both of the hypersonic concepts.

A successful ARRMD program would allow the Department of Defense to pursue an engineering and manufacturing development program as early as 2004 and have an operational missile in the U.S. Navy and Air Force fleets by 2010.

Aerojet, a leader in propulsion, electronic and weapons systems, and custom chemicals, is a segment of GenCorp, a technology-driven company with strong positions in polymer products, automotive, and aerospace and defense industries.