Home Air US Air Force aces first missile test of ARRW hypersonic weapon

US Air Force aces first missile test of ARRW hypersonic weapon

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

The US Air Force has finally nailed the first complete trial of the all-up-round AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) off the Southern California coast.

A B-52H Stratofortress successfully released the first full prototype operational missile on December 9, following a series of previous tests that focused on proving the booster performance.

Following the ARRW’s separation from the aircraft, it reached hypersonic speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, completed its flight path and detonated in the terminal area.

The air force says the indications show that all objectives were met. This all-up-round trial is a much needed boost for the program, which suffered three flight trial failures in 2021. In May this year, the service managed to book a first flight success, with the ARRW’s booster igniting and burning for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound.

The AGM-183A ARRW, is scheduled to be operational as early as fall 2023, after passing back-to back flight tests in May and July this year.

“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.”

The 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California, executed the ARRW test flight.

The ARRW is the Air Force’s first air-launched hypersonic weapon that gives combatant commanders the ability to hit time-sensitive targets faster than they were ever able to before.

The start of live fire testing follows the validation of loading and unloading procedures for the weapon, which was completed this November.