Military Aviation

B-52H Stratofortress conducted successful simulated hypersonic missile kill chain employment

A B-52H Stratofortress from the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted a successful simulated hypersonic kill chain employment from sensor to shooter and back during Northern Edge 21, May 5, 2021.

A B-52H Stratofortress from the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), Louisiana, conducted a successful simulated hypersonic kill chain employment from sensor to shooter and back during Northern Edge 21, May 5, 2021.

As explained by 1st Lt. Savanah Bray, 53rd Wing, in the article B-52 Hypersonic Kill Chain Employment Success, during the more than 13-hour sortie from Barksdale AFB to Alaska and back, the B-52 was able to receive target data from sensors via the All-Domain Operations Capability experiment, 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 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.

The ADOC-E is a joint team 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. The ADOC-E use of current and emergent technology provides assessment opportunities for experimental capabilities and concepts and accelerates employment of relevant TTPs and technologies supporting major combat operations.

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As already reported, on Apr. 5, 2021 the US Air Force (USAF) had a setback in demonstrating its progress in hypersonic weapons when its first booster vehicle flight test encountered an issue on the aircraft and did not launch.

A B-52H Stratofortress took off over the Point Mugu Sea Range intending to fire the first booster test vehicle for the AGM-183A ARRW program. Instead, the test missile was not able to complete its launch sequence and was safely retained on the aircraft which returned here.

The ARRW program aims to deliver a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets (it is intended to travel 500 miles in just 10 minutes once fired from a B-52 bomber. That’s 3,000 mph, versus about 500 mph for a conventional weapon). It will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.

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Photo credit: Mike Tsukamoto/staff; Lockheed Martin; USAF

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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