Friday, May 24, 2024

U.S. ARRW hypersonic missile completes first operational flight test

The U.S. Air Force has conducted the first flight of a full prototype operational hypersonic air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). A B-52H Stratofortress successfully released the Lockheed Martin-made AGM-183 ARRW off the Southern California coast. It was carried out by the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The successful test of the operational ARRW prototype continues a series of successful tests for the program in 2022. Previously, ARRW had three straight test failures in 2021 that left the effort in trouble. However, that streak was broken in May with a successful test of ARRW’s booster performance, which was followed by another one in July, paving the way for all-up-round testing.

During the latest test flight, following the ARRW’s separation from the aircraft, it reached hypersonic speeds greater than five times the speed of sound. The missile then completed its planned flight path and detonated in the terminal area, and the early results show that all test objectives were met.

The AGM-183A has a claimed maximum speed of more than Mach 20 (15,000 mph). The missile uses a boost-glide system, in which it is propelled to hypersonic speed by a rocket on which it is mounted before gliding toward a target. These types of high-speed missiles need to clear a number of technological hurdles, including new materials, sensors, and avionics that can withstand heat, thermal stresses, and acceleration, as well as control systems that operate much faster than those found on supersonic missiles.

“The ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, Armament Directorate Program executive officer. “I am immensely proud of the tenacity and dedication this team has shown to provide a vital capability to our warfighter.”