Military Aviation

Second successful test of AGM-183A ARRW Hypersonic Weapon, Booster Tests Complete

The AGM-183A ARRW hypersonic weapon system reached hypersonic speeds and primary and secondary objectives were met.

The US Air Force (USAF) conducted another successful hypersonic test off the Southern California coast on Jul. 12, 2022. The Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) Booster Test Flight-3 was the 12th flight for the program and third release demonstration. The AGM-183A weapon system reached hypersonic speeds and primary and secondary objectives were met.

“This was another important milestone for the Air Force’s first air-launched hypersonic weapon. The test successfully demonstrated booster performance expanding the operational envelope. We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year. Congratulations to the entire ARRW team, your dedication and expertise are what got us here,” said Maj. Gen. Heath Collins, Program Executive Officer, Armament Directorate, in a USAF news release.

As already reported, the ARRW was successfully released by a B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber for the first time on May 14.

ARRW’s successful tests come after more than a year of setbacks for the program. The missile failed three booster flight tests in 2021.

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On Apr. 5, 2021 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. Then on Jul. 28 after the missile cleanly separated from the B-52H aircraft, it failed to fire its booster and once again did not separate from the plane in December.

The ARRW program is a rapid prototyping project aimed at delivering a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. According to Air Force Magazine, the ARRW, four of which can be carried on the pylons of a B-52 bomber, is planned to be USAF’s first operational hypersonic weapon, one that can fly in excess of Mach 5. The two-stage missile is first accelerated to high speed by a booster rocket, at which point the hypersonic vehicle then separates from the booster and glides to its target.

The weapon system is designed to provide combatant commanders the capability 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.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

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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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