The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has taken another step toward fielding a hypersonic missile, issuing a formal request for information (RFI).
The RFI, issued on 31 May, is an invitation for manufacturers to submit information on what the air force calls a 'Conventional Prompt Global Strike Capability.' Though the word 'hypersonic' appears nowhere in the RFI, 'prompt global strike' is a term long associated with hypersonics; another high-speed alternative, the ballistic missile, is commonly cited as politically unacceptable.
Among the companies that have officially registered interest are Boeing and Northrop Grumman, which both have a long history and recent experience with hypersonic designs.
Boeing reportedly plans to offer an update of its dormant hypersonic vehicle concept, a proposal that lost out to Lockheed Martin for a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract, which became the troubled Falcon programme. Falcon versions one and three were canceled, and Falcon Two lost control shortly after its first launch.