A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress successfully released an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, off the Southern California coast, May 14.
Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound.
«This was a major accomplishment by the ARRW team, for the weapons enterprise, and our Air Force», said Brigadier General Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons. «The team’s tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year’s challenges to get us to the recent success. We are ready to build on what we’ve learned and continue moving hypersonics forward».
The 419th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force, or GPB CTF, both at Edwards Air Force Base, California, executed the test.
«The test team made sure we executed this test flawlessly», said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Jungquist, 419th FLTS commander and GPB CTF director. «Our highly-skilled team made history on this first air-launched hypersonic weapon. We’re doing everything we can to get this game-changing weapon to the warfighter as soon as possible».
ARRW is designed to enable the U.S. to hold fixed, high-value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments from stand-off distances. It will also expand precision-strike capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.
The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52H Stratofortress aircraft on June 12 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
A sensor-only version of the ARRW prototype was carried externally by a B-52H Stratofortress during the test to gather environmental and aircraft handling data.
The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft. The prototype did not have explosives and it was not released from the B-52H Stratofortress during the flight test. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.
«We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter», said Doctor Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. «We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners».
The Air Force is leading the way in air-launched hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts. As one of two rapid prototyping hypersonic efforts, ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022.
«This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face», Roper said.
The flight test serves as the first of many flight tests that will expand the test parameters and capabilities of the ARRW prototype.
The ARRW rapid prototyping effort awarded a contract in August 2018 to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Florida, for critical design review, test and production readiness support to facilitate fielded prototypes.