ATK [ATK] recently said the Army has chosen it to develop an alternative warhead for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS). 

In 2009, ATK as well as Aerojet [GY] and General Dynamics [GD] were identified as companies awarded engineering and manufacturing design and demonstration contracts in light of a Defense Department revision to its cluster munitions policy, requiring technology upgrades to mitigate harm to civilians and friendly troops. The new rules state that more than 99 percent of the submunitions that make up any given cluster bomb in the U.S. inventory must detonate on impact, thereby reducing the quantity of potentially dangerous unexploded ordnance left behind on a battlefield.

The new regulations would take effect in 2018 and apply to all DoD stockpiles, as well as Foreign Military Sales (FMS) orders.

MLRS will be the first weapon in the U.S. arsenal to begin conforming to the new policy via technological improvements.

ATK was one of three companies competing to proceed into the Engineering and Manufacturing Design and Demonstration (EMDD) phase of the program. ATK will be a subcontractor to GMLRS prime contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT]. 

The GMLRS alternative warhead eliminates the use of submunitions, but performs as a drop-in replacement for the currently-fielded Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) warhead. 

“This new warhead offers the advantage of uncompromised performance without leaving unexploded submunitions on the battlefield,” said Dave Wise, vice president and general manager of ATK Defense Components. “We look forward to further development and integration of our improved warhead solution for GMLRS. We are also excited to demonstrate that we can adapt our lethality-enhanced ordnance design for other missile, mortar, artillery and air-dropped weapon applications.”

During the Army’s live-fire testing, ATK’s alternative warhead–featuring ATK’s Lethality Enhanced Ordnance (LEO) design–demonstrated that it meets performance and mission requirements, lowers technical risk, and matches current weapon flight characteristics without modifications to the existing GMLRS delivery system. In addition, the design improves user safety by lessening the risk of chain-reaction explosions should the warhead be struck by bullets or fragments, or encounter other hazardous events.

ATK will now refine the design to enhance its ability to produce it, ensuring a low risk transition to low-rate initial production. The EMD phase will include environment qualification tests and flight tests.

Warhead production work will be performed at ATK’s Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) facility in Rocket Center, W.Va. ABL is a Navy-owned, ATK-operated facility specializing in advanced manufacturing technologies for a variety of programs supporting current and future U.S. industrial base needs in conventional munitions assemblies, advanced electronic fuzing and integration, solid rocket motor propulsion, and advanced material structures. ATK’s Plymouth, Minn., facility will provide key engineering and program support.