SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Demonstration testing was completed recently on a new booster for a U.S. submarine-launched, medium-range ballistic missile.
Lockheed Martin and ATK announced Monday that the SLIRBM test met all technical, cost and scheduling requirements and completed two static firings last summer at ATK's test range in Utah.
The SLIRBM (Submarine Launched Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Booster System Demonstration) has thus completed the system trade-study phase and is now waiting for the green light to move on to subsequent phases, which could include flight tests and underwater launch tests.
"Our team not only developed and tested the motors in record time, but also identified cost-reduction strategies for motor design and operation with no sacrifice in performance," said Tory Bruno, vice president of Lockheed's Strategic Missile Programs unit. "This demonstration gives the Navy an important foundation for further development of this potential new capability."
The solid-fuel booster is designed to carry a missile at supersonic speed and be on target within 15 minutes of launch.
The SLIRBM is projected for the Ohio-class submarine as a surprise-attack asset that can hit targets virtually anywhere in the world. The proposed system would be able to deliver conventional and nuclear payloads and would give the Navy a platform for short-range cruise missiles, long-range nukes and medium-range SLIR missiles with a range of about 1,100 miles.
Modernizing U.S. submarine missiles to 21st Century scenarios has been a bone of contention in the strategic arms world; the notion of long-range missiles being adapted for conventional warheads would give the United States a stand-off punch against rogue nations and terrorist hideouts, but it also raises arms-control treaty issues and the possibility that China and Russia could mistake a conventional launch for the start of World War III.