Northrop Tests Minuteman ICBM At Edwards AFB
Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] completed a static test fire of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology-demonstrator motor at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Northrop principal teammate Alliant Tech Systems [ATK] joined in the test, which proved that the advanced propulsion concepts being developed for possible insertion into the Minuteman III stage-one motor will work and can improve performance, range and affordability.
Designed and built by ATK at facilities in Promontory, Utah, the stage-one technology demonstrator rocket motor fired successfully to completion and met all test objectives regarding thrust, insulator/nozzle erosion and thrust vector control.
Initial results from the test matched expectations for rocket-motor performance and integrity.
The motor was developed and manufactured under the Propulsion Applications Program, one of more than 50 programs managed by Northrop Grumman to support Air Force efforts to sustain the country’s ICBM arsenal through 2020.
Other applications efforts are focused on the missile’s guidance and reentry systems, where this advanced development work not only reduces risk associated with potential future improvements, but offers an environment that continually challenges the technical prowess of this workforce, according to Northrop.
“This success reflects the synergy of manufacturing expertise and systems engineering between Northrop Grumman and ATK that is needed to provide our customers with the best possible systems and greatest mission assurance,” said John Clay, vice president and general manager of the Northrop ICBM prime contract.
“The motor firing is a step forward in making this and other pending performance improvements for the Minuteman III available to the Air Force. These improvements enhance the warfighters’ global strike capability.”
“The applications effort challenges the rich talent base of scientists and engineers at our Clearfield and San Bernardino facilities by offering opportunities to develop improvements to today’s Minuteman III weapon system and tomorrow’s next generation of land-based strategic missiles,” added Clay. “This program also helps the Air Force reduce risk in future improvements by proving concepts in advance to ensure successful integration in the future.”