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WASHINGTON, June 3. /TASS/. The Pentagon has formally kicked off a competition to develop an engine to replace Russia’s RD-180 mounted on Atlas-5 rockets.
Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force's Space and Missiles Systems Center, told reporters on Tuesday that the companies that will win the contest are to receive $160 million. The results will be announced in September.
Last year, the United States said it decided to not to use the RD-180 engines during the launches of its military and intelligence satellites citing national security reasons and the escalation of relations with Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis.
The US Congress has allocated funds to this aim and adopted a bill under which the new US engine has to be developed by 2019. Until that time, the United Launch Alliance created by the Lockheed Martin and Boeing companies will continue using Atlas-5 with the Russian engine manufactured by the Energomash plant.