Military Aviation

B-52 conducts last captive carry flight of AGM-183 Hypersonic Test Missiles

The USAF took another step towards fielding a hypersonic weapon following its final captive-carry test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon under a wing of a B-52 Stratofortress off the Southern California coast.

The US Air Force (USAF) took another step towards fielding a hypersonic weapon following its final captive-carry test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon under a wing of a B-52 Stratofortress off the Southern California coast, Aug 8, 2020.

The flight resulted in the successful transmission of telemetry and GPS data from the AGM-183A IMV-2 (Instrumented Measurement Vehicle) to Point Mugu Sea Range ground stations. The test verified system integration with the B-52 launch platform and telemetry while practicing concepts of operations that will be utilized during its first Booster Test Flight later this year.

“This is a major milestone for the program, the team and our Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, to Giancarlo Casem, 412th Test Wing Public Affairs, for the article Air Force conducts latest hypersonic weapon flight test. “ARRW is the first step in bringing game-changing hypersonic capabilities to our Warfighters.”

The ARRW program is a rapid prototyping project aimed at delivering a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the Warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide combatant commanders the capability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets.

ARRW will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.

A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 8. The aircraft conducted a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 hypersonic prototype at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California coast.

“The event this week demonstrated the ability to communicate with the prototype weapon; the entire team is excited to take the next step and begin energetic flight test of our first air-launched hypersonic weapons,” said Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, 419th Flight Test Squadron Commander and Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force Director. “These weapons will enable application of conventional firepower anywhere in the world at eye-watering speed.”

The 419th FLTS and Global Power Bomber CTF conduct flight test missions utilizing the Air Force’s inventory of bomber aircraft.

“We are in a competition and must remain diligent in our efforts to stay ahead of our adversaries who are vigorously pursuing similar weapon systems,” said Gen. Arnold. W. Bunch, Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander. “Across the enterprise, our research, acquisition and test communities are well-coordinated to deliver critical hypersonic capabilities for the nation.”

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The ARRW program development began with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Boost Glide demonstration system, which will be integrated into the ARRW payload. It has successfully completed two prior captive-carry tests.

“I am very pleased with the work on the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon and what this means for global precision-fires,” said Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander. “This capability will directly support our warfighters. Hypersonic weapons further enable the U.S. to hold any target at risk in any environment anywhere.”

This test of the AGM-183A IMV-2 was the culmination of efforts from across the Air Force Test Center enterprise, the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at Point Mugu, the ARRW Program Office and Lockheed Martin.

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Photo credit: Giancarlo Casem and Matt Williams / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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