The US Air Force has announced it conducted a successful test of an all-up-round AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) off the coast of California on 9 December.
The test marked the first time a full prototype of the missile had been tested, with previous tests focussing on the missile separating from the B-52H mothership, or the booster’s ignition, or the warhead separation. In this latest test, the missile separated from the aircraft, reached hypersonic speeds, completed its flight path, and detonated in the terminal area. A 12 December release from the USAF states that “indications show that all objectives were met”.
“The ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years,” BrigGen Jason Bartolomei, the USAF’s Armament Directorate Program Executive Officer said in a release. “I am immensely proud of the tenacity and dedication this team has shown to provide a vital capability to our warfighter.”
The AGM-183A is designed and built by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and is designed to travel at hypersonic speeds in excess of Mach 5 and be able to manoeuvre to its target, thus holding fixed, high-value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments.
The program suffered three test launch failures in 2021, and production funding in FY2022 was cut as a consequence. But following three successful tests in 2022, the USAF says it is now working on a concept of operations and where the AGM-183A will fit into the service’s arsenal.