The U.S. Defense Department and the Norwegian Ministry of Defense have jointly announced that they will partner on the development of an advanced solid fuel ramjet that could find use in supersonic and hypersonic weaponry.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Tactical High-speed Offensive Ramjet for Extended Range, or THOR-ER, involves research by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and Norwegian industry partner Nammo Group to develop supporting technologies that in the future could be incorporated into a high-speed weapons programme.
“I am very pleased with the prospects of this initiative,” said Morten Tiller, Norwegian National Armaments director. “Not only will it provide a game-changing capability for our armed forces, it also brings bilateral cooperation to a whole new level.”
Tiller explained that the THOR-ER development incorporates the results of long-term research and development on missile and rocket technology in Norway.
“Nammo Group’s contribution to the project along with its strong track record from partnering with U.S. missile primes make me optimistic with regard to the prospects for co-production,” Tiller commented.
The THOR-ER effort aims to cooperatively develop and integrate advancements in solid fuel ramjet technologies into full-size prototypes that are “affordable, attain high speeds, achieve extended range, and culminate in flight demonstrations in operationally relevant conditions for land, sea and air applications”, said U.S. Air Force Col. Corey A. Beaverson, director of Mission Prototypes, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, which is overseeing the project.
”THOR-ER also seeks to lay the framework for future co-production decisions. It’s important to engage on this topic early to remove any hurdles that will make co-producing – if that’s the route we take — prohibitive because we thought of the requirements too late,” he said.
“Solid fuel ramjets are a propulsion technology that enables supersonic speeds with long ranges in small packages so missiles can fit on most aircraft,” Beaverson added.