Lockheed Martin to continue ramjet development

Lockheed Martin has received a $3.1 million contract to continue development of a Solid Fuel Ramjet and conduct full-scale tests at cruise conditions of over Mach 5.5.

Lockheed Martin has received a $3.1 million contract from the US Naval Air Warfare Centre (NAWC), Weapons Division to continue development of a Solid Fuel Ramjet (SFRJ).

The contract, SFRJ – Phase II, calls for Lockheed Martin to demonstrate full-scale components and operation of the SFRJ at Mach 5.5 cruise conditions within the next 12 months.

‘This contract is for the development and integration of a full-scale solid fuel ramjet propulsion system, along with the carbon/carbon combustor and airframe section,’ said Frank Powell, vice president – Naval Munitions for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. ‘We view this an important step in producing affordable hypersonic missiles for future naval and other military applications.’

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is the prime contractor for the Solid Fuel Ramjet Missile Technology Program, managed by the Propulsion Division of NAWC.

The program is developing a ramjet propulsion system for tactical missile applications using an air-breathing solid fuel ramjet combined with carbon/carbon structural components. Lockheed Martin is designing and integrating the airframe and inlet for an air and ship launch tactical missile.

Phase I of the SFRJ program successfully demonstrated the technology in rigorous sub-scale testing at both Mach 5 take-over and cruise conditions of Mach 5.7 at altitudes above 70,000 feet. Phase II will demonstrate a full-scale tactical missile-sized propulsion section and carbon/carbon structure at those same conditions.

The SFRJ engine is said to offer the most efficient fuel packaging of all air-breathing engine options, thereby enabling high speeds and long ranges to be achieved within the envelope of a tactical missile system. Additionally, since the SFRJ fuel grain contains no oxidiser, it is consistent with the services’ Insensitive Munitions requirements.

On Lockheed Martin’s SFRJ, there are no moving parts or complicated electronics, which will reportedly lower costs and provide a much higher degree of reliability compared to conventional liquid fuel weapons.

Due to its simplicity of construction and operation, a Mach 5.5 solid fuel ramjet tactical missile could be fielded within three or four years of a successful flight-test technology demonstration.