Home Air US Air Force stages hypersonic weapon strike demo during Northern Edge

US Air Force stages hypersonic weapon strike demo during Northern Edge

B-52 hypersonic kill chain demonstration
US Air Force file photo of a B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. sits on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base.

A hypersonic weapon strike simulation carried out during the Northern Edge maneuver in Alaska has been hailed a success by the US Air Force.

On May 5, a B-52 Stratofortress from the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted a successful simulated kill chain employment from sensor to shooter and back, the service said.

The successful demo comes after the less successful attempt to launch the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). The long-awaited first live-fire did not go as expected as the booster vehicle failed to launch during the test on April 5.

Describing the feat, the service said the B-52 flew a 13-hour sortie from Barksdale AFB to Alaska and back. During the flight, it was able to receive target data from sensors via the All-Domain Operations Capability experiment (ADOC-E), more than 1,000 nautical miles away miles away at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Once it received the data from the ADOC-E, the bomber then was able to successfully take a simulated shot of the target from 600 nautical miles away using an AGM-183 ARRW.

A Lockheed Martin graphic of a B-52 launching an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)

“We were really exercising the data links that we needed in order to complete that kill chain loop, and then get the feedback to the players in the airspace that the simulated hypersonic missile was fired and effective,” said Lt. Col. Joe Little, 53rd Test Management Group deputy commander.

This was a successful showcase of beyond line of sight kill chain employment, and notably, was a success in the highly contested and realistic threat environment that Northern Edge provides, the service said in a release.

“The team did an outstanding job effecting this event both in planning and execution, said Lt. Col. Matt Guasco, 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron commander. “This is a win for the USAF and greater DOD as a whole but make no mistake, we are just getting started.”

As explained by the air force, the ADOC-E is a joint team that represents the operational-level “blue” training audience designed to experiment with synchronizing joint functions in forward locations. The ADOC-E design allows the synchronization of joint functions in forward, contested environment when traditional C2 structure effectiveness is degraded or denied.

ADOC-E personnel have coordination authority capable of facilitating long-range joint fires and further hosting future capability provided through and advanced battle management system approach.