GenCorp Subsidiary Lands Air Force Nuke Engine Contract

Aerojet Rocketdyne is heading back to space ... with a bullet.

On Monday, the GenCorp subsidiary announced that it has won a contract from the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Propulsion Applications Program to demonstrate a new Medium Class Stage III motor that could be used to refurbish America's aging arsenal of Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Rocketdyne noted that its role will be to develop, build and demo of a full-scale motor that, if successful, could replace the SR-73 third stage motors currently used on the Minuteman. Rocketdyne Vice President of Missile Defense and Strategic Systems Michael Bright called the contract "an important win" for this company, and a chance to help "maintain critical industrial base capability in solid rocket motor design and development" for the country.

The U.S. arsenal currently contains some 450 operational Minuteman III missiles.

In addition to the Minuteman program, Rocketdyne says its new engine could eventually become the basis for "a family of affordable, sustainable motors that can support a wide range of potential AF solutions," among them, powering drone missiles used for target practice by missile defense system interceptors.

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