Mk90 grain

BAE Systems has received a multi-million dollar contract to continue production of the MK 90 propellant grains for the US Army.

Under the $50m contract, the company will continue manufacturing the propellant grain, which provides propulsion for the MK66 rocket motor, a key element of the Hydra 70 family of rockets used by the US military and several allied nations to support overseas operations.

BAE Systems Ordnance Systems vice-president and general manager Reed McPeak said: "The Hydra 70 missile is the work horse of the unguided missile category.

"It is the most commonly used helicopter-launched weapon system in the world, and we are pleased to fuel this multi-service, multi-national system."

Manufactured at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in south-western Virginia, the MK 90 propellant grain incorporates a minimum-smoke, double-base, low-signature formulation, and is used in all Hydra weapon systems.

Since 2012, BAE has been serving as the managing operator at Radford Army Ammunition Plant, which is said to be a leading producer of military-grade propellants and is currently the primary supplier of solventless propellants.

"We are pleased to fuel this multi-service, multi-national system."

The company started manufacturing MK 90 propellant grains in October 2012, with the first delivery in August 2013.

According to BAE, the MK 90 production process involves more than 300 people in five manufacturing areas at the facility. To date, around 500,000 grain units are believed to have been delivered to the US Department of Defense.

Production work under this current contract is scheduled to commence in 2016 and continue through 2017.

The Hydra 70 rocket system is used on a variety of fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms, including the AH-64 Apache, the UH-60 Black Hawk, and the A-10 Warthog close air support aircraft.

Image: The MK 90 propellant grain is the propulsion component of the Hydra 70 rocket system. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.