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ONR re-issues solicitation for ‘Screaming Arrow' development

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Department for Aviation, Force Projection and Integrated Defense on 7 August re-issued a Special Notice (N0014-21-S-SNI4) soliciting proposals for the development and testing of a carrier-borne F/A-18E/F Super Hornet-compatible air-launched hypersonic, air-breathing controlled test vehicle (CTV), designated ‘Screaming Arrow'.

Referencing a technology area entitled ‘Hypersonic Aerothermodynamics, High-Speed Propulsion and Materials', the re-issued solicitation comes around five months after the navy published the initial Special Notice (N0014-21-S-SN06) on 2 March, and subsequently cancelled it, without explanation, three days later.

According to the ONR, the Screaming Arrow weapon system is intended to fulfil a naval role and, accordingly, in conjunction with its hypersonic, air-breathing characteristics, it must also be both aircraft carrier (CVN)-compliant and compatible with the US Navy (USN)/US Marine Corps F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multirole combat aircraft.

The solicitation sets the prospective Screaming Arrow development firmly within the orbit of the USN's ambitions for a near-term air-launched hypersonic or near-hypersonic anti-surface warfare capability. Although omitted from the latest Special Notice, the original solicitation references the baseline target set for the weapon system: “The specific use case of Screaming Arrow is Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW). The threshold target set includes, but is not limited to, surface combatants and capital ships.” However, both releases note: “The need for Screaming Arrow technologies arises from a capability gap in propulsion solutions for servicing adversary targets at range within a compressed time of flight, which is not achievable with today's sub-hypersonic weapon approaches.”

Screaming Arrow design elements. (Office of Naval Research)

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