Albuquerque, New Mexico-headquartered X-Bow Systems, which describes itself as “a non-traditional small business advanced supplier of solid rocket motors (SRMs) and defense technologies”, has been awarded a follow-on contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for its Rapid Energetics and Advanced Rocket Manufacturing (RE-ARM) programme. The original Pathfinder I contract demonstrated X-Bow’s “groundbreaking, low-cost advanced manufacturing approach to solid rocket motors”.

The original programme culminated in a 15-month delivery and demonstration of a simulated-energetics factory at Edwards Air Force Base, California in July 2022.

X-Bow products include the Bolt rocket, shown here in a US Army photo before a 2023 test launch at White Sands Missile Range.

AFRL is following up the original contract with a new award to X-Bow Systems to continue developing the technology through an advanced, fully energetic advanced manufacturing capability called the “Gen-0” and housed at X-Bow’s development facilities.

“The collaboration between X-Bow and AFRL has been extremely effective in leveraging our technology and innovative engineering team to provide the country with a much-needed capability. The RE-ARM Gen-0 system is going to change the state of the industry and our ability to be responsive,” said Jill Marsh, Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Programs Lead at X-Bow Systems.

X-Bow’s Pathfinder I demonstrated the viability of employing a compact SRM “factory” that combines innovative design, automation, and advanced manufacturing techniques. The greatly reduced footprint increases flexibility in the manufacturing and fielding of rockets to specific missions.

X-Bow claims its approach removes many design constraints and delays that are inherent to the current methods of producing SRMs. X-Bow’s design and modular manufacturing techniques, together with state-of-the-art automation and digital engineering, enable affordable rocket propulsion anytime, anywhere.

“Our continuing partnership with X-Bow will be critical to our ability to address wide-ranging urgent needs related to SRMs, including acute stockpile and manufacturing shortfalls for current and future precision-guided munitions as well as developing ready-to-launch vehicle architectures for responsive access to space,” said Dr. Shawn Phillips, Chief, Rocket Propulsion Division at Air Force Research Laboratory.