Weapons

USAF reveals AGM-183A ARRW with live warhead in Guam during hypersonic weapon training

AGM-183A ARRW with live warhead in Guam

Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) on Feb. 27, 2024 hosted a comprehensive hypersonic weapon familiarization training for its B-52 Stratofortress bomber crews. The training focused on operational concepts for the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) and the future Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM).

According to Alert 5, the training included academic instruction on the fundamental characteristics and capabilities of hypersonic technologies. Additionally, bomber crews engaged in tactical discussions regarding the potential employment of these weapons in various combat scenarios.

The AGM-183A ARRW with live warhead

B-52 Stratofortress crews from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, participated in hypersonic weapon familiarization training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 27, 2024.

As the photo in this post shows, B-52 Stratofortress crews from the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana were shown observing an AGM-183A AARW fitted on the external pylon of a B-52H bomber. The presence of a yellow ring on the AGM-183A missile, indicating a live warhead, suggests the weapon has been deployed for operational use in Guam.

The US Department of Defense is developing hypersonic science and technology to ensure the country can rapidly field operational hypersonic systems.

The US Air Force (USAF) will continue to invest in researching, developing, testing, producing, and fielding cost-effective weapons. These weapons are a mix of stand-off, stand-in, hypersonic, and subsonic precision guided munitions. According to a USAF news release, the Air Force also continues to develop revolutionary advanced weapon capabilities to maintain a competitive advantage over the pacing challenge.

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The hypersonic technology

The AGM-183A is a conventional, boost-glide, hypersonic weapon consisting of a solid rocket motor booster, a glider protective shroud, and a glider vehicle containing a kinetic energy projectile warhead. A standoff air-to-ground missile launched from a B-52H aircraft, the ARRW is intended to attack high-value, time-sensitive, land-based targets.

Hypersonic technology has continued to present several complex engineering challenges. Going Mach 5, sometimes even faster, generates extreme levels of heat, driving the need for innovative materials, sensors and electronics to withstand such speeds throughout its journey. In addition to heat, these systems must be able to maintain consistent communication connections, as well as considerable intelligence to perform precise maneuverability techniques to overcome a wide range of advanced defense systems and extreme contested environments.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Pedro Tenorio

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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