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12 Jan 16. FZ set finalise development of new 2.75-in laser guided rocket. Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ), a subsidiary of the Thales Group, is set to finalise development of its new 70-mm/2.75-in semi-active laser (SAL) folding fin aerial rocket (FFAR) following completion of series of test firings from a South African Air Force Rooivalk attack helicopter at the Denel Overberg Test Range in late October 2015.
FZ’s new 70-mm/2.75-in semi-active laser guided rocket, FZ275LGR (Forges de Zeebrugge/Thales)
Qualification of what the company designates FZ275 LGR is now planned for the beginning of 2018, with initial deliveries to an undisclosed customer beginning in 2019. “Development [of the FZ275 LGR] is mainly completed. FZ expects the laser-guided rockets to be available as COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] in early 2019,” an FZ spokesperson told IHS Jane’s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Jan 16. Orbital ATK, SpaceX To Build US Air Force Rocket Engine Prototypes. The US Air Force has awarded Orbital ATK and Elon Musk’s SpaceX contracts to develop prototypes of rocket engines as a part of the government’s ongoing effort to end reliance on the Russian RD-180 booster for military space launch. Orbital ATK nabbed a $47m contract to develop three rocket propulsion system prototypes intended for use on an Orbital ATK next-generation launch vehicle, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. The total potential value of the contract, including all the options, is $180m. Specifically, the contract includes development of prototypes of Orbital ATK’s GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment solid rocket motor and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Origin’s BE-3U engine. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, has been pushing its Blue Engine (BE) class of engines as a homegrown alternative to the RD-180. SpaceX, meanwhile, won a $33.6m contract to develop the Raptor rocket engine prototype for the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, according to the Pentagon. The potential value of the award, including all options is $61m.
Both contracts are part of the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, intended to ensure US access to space.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, another rocket engine manufacturer, was notably missing from Wednesday’s contract announcement. However, that does not mean the company is out of the running, as the Air Force is still in negotiations with other industry players.
“The Air Force is still in negotiations with the remaining offerors and subsequent awards, if any, will occur over the next few months,” according to a Jan. 13 service statement.
The Pentagon currently relies on the RD-180 to power the Atlas V rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Efforts to develop a domestic solution gained new urgency when Congress banned the use of the RD-180 for military space launch as a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Lawmakers recently relaxed the ban as part of the 2016 omnibus spending bill, but officials are still pressing industry to find a homegrown alternative. (Source: Defense News)
13 Jan 16. New guided artillery rocket to enter Israeli service. A new guided artillery rocket called the Romah will soon be declared operational by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), IHS Jane’s has learned.
Made by Israel Military Industries (IMI), the GPS-guided Romah will be used with the Artillery Corps’ M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), which have already been modified so they can launch the new munition.
IMI said the Romah is a different calibre from the 227 mm rockets normally launched by the M270 and uses a different pod. It has a range of 35 km, a 20 kg warhead, and has an accuracy (circular error probable) of less than 10 m.
Eli Reiter, head of IMI’s Rocket Systems Division, s