Northrop Grumman has received a contract to produce illuminating flares for the US Army’s Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions’ (TAGM) unguided Hydra-70 Rocket programme.

The five-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded by General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS).

Valued at $80m, the contract is for the production of the M257 visible spectrum flare, the M278 infrared (IR) spectrum illuminating flare, as well as the newly designed M278A1 IR spectrum illuminating flare.

Northrop Grumman propulsion systems vice-president Charlie Precourt said: “For decades we have been an industry-leading provider of high-performance tactical illumination that soldiers rely on.

“This technology greatly enhances target detection and identification by providing an artificial light that illuminates the battlefield using visible or infrared light.”

According to Northrop, the flares offer troops the tactical edge they need on the battlefield by delivering target illumination in both the visible and infrared spectra.

Hydra-70 illuminating warheads can be fired from a variety of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft such as the US Army Apache and the US Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters, the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and other combat aircraft used worldwide.

For more than four decades, Northrop Grumman has been providing illumination technology.

This technology includes the first Hydra-70 illumination rounds, first patented in 1971.

The Hydra-70 rocket system has two main components, including the MK66 rocket motor and various warheads.

The rockets are used to perform various roles, including anti-material, anti-personnel, air-to-ground suppression and illumination.