Status: Operational 1974.
Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch
The ALVRJ (Advanced Low-Volume Ramjet; sometimes Air-Launched Low-Volume Ramjet) program was begun by Vought (later LTV) in 1968 under contract from the U.S. Navy. The goal was the flight test of a small and compact ("low volume") ramjet engine for missile applications. LTV designed the propulsion system of the ALVRJ missile as an integral rocket/ramjet. A solid-fuel rocket motor boosted the missile for 5 seconds to ramjet ignition speed, and then the empty rocket motor casing functioned as the ramjet's combustion chamber.
The first of the non-recoverable ALVRJ test vehicles (sometimes called simply LVRJ) was air-launched from an A-7E aircraft in December 1974, and reached a speed of over Mach 2, covering a distance of about 75 km (40 nm). Four successful flight tests followed during 1976, after which the program was completed.
After the completion of the successful ALVRJ program, LTV proposed a tactical derivative for the Navy's generic STM (Supersonic Tactical Missile) requirement. It was very similar to the ALVRJ vehicles, and first flew in April 1979. However, the Navy did not pursue this project, and instead tried to develop the BGM-109 Tomahawk together with the Air Force as a medium-range air-to-surface missile (MRASM).
In 1983, LTV offered the LVRJ/STM design as its entry into the Navy's YAQM-127A SLAT (Supersonic Low-Altitude Target) competition. However, the Navy selected Martin Marietta's design, which was based on the cancelled ASALM (Advanced Strategix Air-Launched Missile) and also used integrated rocket/ramjet propulsion. In the end, the SLAT program was cancelled before any vehicle was built.Specifications
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for ALVRJ:
|Length||4.57 m (15 ft)|
|Diameter||38 cm (15 in)|
|Speed||2735 km/h (1700 mph)|
|Range||> 160 km (100 miles)|
 Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
 R.T. Pretty (ed.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1977", Jane's, 1977
 Vought Heritage Museum Website