New problem hits candidate for US Army missile contract

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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After missing two of three live-fire shots last year, Lockheed Martin acknowledges finding a new problem with its candidate for the US Army's joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) contract.

The Aerojet-supplied single rocket motor has encountered unspecified problems, says Frank St John, Lockheed's vice-president for tactical missiles. As a result, Lockheed is implementing manufacturing process changes to improve the quality of the advanced propellant, he says.

Such process improvements are routine in the development of a new missile, St John adds.

The Lockheed proposal, which is competing against a Raytheon Systems/Boeing team, has already faced two setbacks in the live-fire tests required at the end of the technology development phase last year.

In one test, a mechanical interference in the gimbal of Lockheed's tri-mode seeker caused the missile to miss its target by 400m (1,310ft). Another test shot went awry due to a software glitch in the inertial measurement unit system, St John says. Lockheed fixed both problems and successfully fired a missile in a self-funded test, he adds.

Lockheed has delivered eight single rocket motors to the army for additional testing, but the results of those tests have not been disclosed, St John says.

Raytheon also confirms having delivered eight rocket motors to the army. In March, the first four motors cleared a set of thermocycling tests with no problems, says J R Smith, the company's business development manager for JAGM. Another four rounds will be subjected in May to a series of thermocycling tests with vibration included, he says.

Raytheon cleared the technology demonstration tests by hitting the target all three times in government-funded test shots, as well as during three company-funded tests.