ADELANTO — A multi-million dollar contract from the federal government for a new air-delivered bunker-buster bomb capable of penetrating six feet of reinforced concrete will include technology developed in the High Desert. The Pentagon recently awarded the $7.2 million contract to General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Aerospace, which furthers the development of a new munitions concept, the aerospace industry news website reported.

The Penagon tapped General Dynamics to develop and test the fireball HAMMER (Heated And Mobile Munitions Employing Rockets) that is designed to destroy chemical and biological weapons. The concept for the bomb was patented by the technology company Exquadrum out of Adelanto, which was founded by company President Eric Schmidt and CEO Kevin Mahaffy.

“A majority of Exquadrum’s staff in Adelanto will be detailed to applying the Fireball technology to the new HAMMER program,” Schmidt told the Daily Press. “This personnel requirement, along with a host of other technology programs that Exquadrum has recently been awarded, will force Exquadrum to look into hiring new aerospace and mechanical engineers to work all the new programs.”

Schmidt shared a article, which revealed that Mahaffy was the inventor of the one-ton bomb’s design, which involves littering an underground bunker or weapons storage facility with hundreds of rocket-propelled fireballs designed to incinerate chemical and biological agents at temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees.

“The technology is a significant breakthrough because it completely destroys these weapons of mass destruction without releasing hazardous chemicals or germs into the environment where they can harm civilians,” Schmidt said.

An Air Force spokeswoman at Eglin AFB in Florida told Flightglobal that over the next nine months, General Dynamics will demonstrate three basic subsystem functions — ejection, ignition and dispersal. Additional contract options are available to fund static and sled testing of the complete HAMMER weapon system.

There are currently no flight tests planned, since that depends on the success of the sled tests, according to the AF spokeswoman.

The HAMMER has been in development with the Pentagon since 2010 as a Defense Threat Reduction Agency and has been designated as a “small business innovative research project,” FlightGlobal reported. The primary customer for the weapon is the DTRA, which since its formation in 1998 has been searching for new and creative ways to demolish weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear, chemical or biological.

The Air Force and General Dynamics both said Exquadrum remains a key partner and subcontractor on the program. It is responsible for producing the kinetic fireball incendiaries payloads.

Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.

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