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US Navy issues, then cancels, ‘Screaming Arrow' solicitation

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Department for Aviation, Force Projection, and Integrated Defense in early March issued a Special Notice (N0014-21-S-SN06) soliciting proposals for the development and testing of an air-launched hypersonic, air-breathing controlled test vehicle (CTV), which it designates ‘Screaming Arrow’. While responses to the solicitation were initially required by 8 April, the Special Notice was promptly cancelled, without public explanation, on 5 March – shortly after its issuance three days earlier.

The stated objective of the Screaming Arrow Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) programme, which leverages ONR funding starting in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), is “to demonstrate an aircraft carrier (CVN) compliant, air-launch, of an air-breathing propulsion controlled test vehicle (CTV) (cruiser, inter stage and booster) that is compatible with an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.”

According to the ONR, ”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. 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.”

The navy intends a ‘programmatic approach’ to the Screaming Arrow development, leveraging previous and current hypersonic air-vehicle/propulsion cruiser developments with limited design changes. This will culminate in a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 6 demonstration (land-based flight tests) that will be used to determine the technical success of the INP. According to the Special Notice, “the specific technology approach chosen shall be selected based upon cost, schedule, and analysis of meeting a series of maturation criteria, which include key kinematic and physical characteristics, critical component maturity validated through tests, and concept design compatibility with CVN usage.

Screaming Arrow programmatic design elements derived from the ONR’s 2 March 2021 Special Notice (N0014-21-S-SN06)  ( US Office of Naval Research)

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