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Pentagon signs contracts on building rocket engine to replace Russia’s RD-180

March 01, 2016, 10:47 UTC+3 WASHINGTON

The work is expected to be completed no later than December 31, 2019 and may require a total potential government investment of $536 million

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Russian RD-180 rocket engines, produced by Energomash Company

Russian RD-180 rocket engines, produced by Energomash Company

© Alexei Filippov/ITAR-TASS

WASHINGTON, March 1. /TASS/. The Pentagon has signed contracts with American companies Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Services (ULA) for the development of a rocket engine, which should replace Russia’s RD-180 engine in the United States, the press service of the US Department of Defense reported on Monday.

Following the US Air Force selection of AR1 for a Rocket Propulsion System award, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), named Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, as a key team member for the AR1 engine development, Aerojet Rocketdyne said in a release on its website.

The AR1 engine is designed as a replacement for the Russian-built RD-180 engine, currently being used to launch America’s defense and national security assets on the Atlas V launch vehicle. AR1 is a 500,000 lbf thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine incorporating the latest technology, processes and materials, the release says.

According to the company, the work is expected to be completed no later than December 31, 2019. The Air Force intends to initially obligate $115.3 million with Aerojet Rocketdyne and ULA contributing $57.7 million. The total potential government investment, including all options, is $536 million. The total potential investment by Aerojet Rocketdyne and its partners, including all options, is $268 million.

The AR1 engine is adaptable to current and future launch vehicles in development.

"The AR1 engine is the right catalyst for moving our nation away from Russian reliance and returning America’s preeminence as a propulsion leader," said Jim Simpson, senior vice president of Strategy and Business Development at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "Our collaboration with Dynetics in developing key AR1 components is an essential element to having a certified engine in 2019".

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