A TRW-built gel propulsion engine has successfully completed the first cold test firings of such a system at the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) facilities in Redstone, Alabama.
The system was subjected to multiple cold temperature firings from ambient temperature down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The test is said to demonstrate the ability of the gel engine to perform successfully over the anticipated operating range for a variety of Army tactical missiles and interceptors such as Common Missile, Modernised Hellfire, THAAD, Advanced Kill Vehicles and the Low Cost Interceptor.
TRW verified that the motor fired successfully multiple times while achieving over 96% of the ambient temperature thrust level, which will enable consistent missile launch capability across operational temperature ranges for Army tactical missiles.
Gel systems are fuelled with a very viscous, semi-solid propellant and combine the safety features of solid propellants with the throttling capability of liquid propellants.
In previous testing, TRW’s gel system was said to have demonstrated more than twice the range of a comparable solid motor with increased manoeuvrability. This flexibility will allow one missile system to perform multiple missions, reducing an operator’s overall operation and support cost.
Testing is part of the Controllable Thrust Propulsion program, a $5 million contract awarded to TRW in April 2000.