The US Navy has awarded a contract to Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for the development of technologies that can be incorporated into next-generation air-to-air missile systems.

Under the $10m contract for the counter air / future naval capabilities (CA/FNC) programme, ATK will identify specific propulsion technologies to develop for integration into future missile systems.

The CA/FNC programme is designed to develop technologies that will extend missile range, decrease time-to-target, improve end-game manoeuvrability and improve the rocket motor’s response to insensitive munitions (IM) stimuli.

The key areas that ATK will work on include high burn rate propellants for improved kinematics, improving case stiffness for reduced weight and agility, low erosion nozzles for improved performance; and multipulse propulsion for end-game manoeuvrability.

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In addition, the company will work on advanced propellant formulation, a low-cost composite case, and mitigation safety devices proven on other tactical rocket motor programmes.

The enhancements derived from the CA/FNC programme will be applicable to other air-to-air missile systems and are oriented towards the 7in-diameter advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM), currently in use by the US Navy.

The contract has been awarded by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California.