The United States Air Force’s first flight test of the AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) was a success, officials have announced. The flight test was conducted with a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft at the Edwards Air Force Base on June 12; it involved a prototype version of the hypersonic weapon that featured only sensors.
The B-52 carried the ARRW prototype externally, according to the US Air Force, in order to get info on how the aircraft handled with the weapon and to gather environmental data. The sensor-only prototype didn’t feature any actual explosives, nor was it ever released by the B-52 aircraft during this initial flight test.
According to the USAF, it is required to collect this kind of information on weapons as part of the development process. The ARRW is one of two hypersonic projects undergoing ‘rapid prototyping,’ officials said, with this particular weapon scheduled to reach its early operational capability by the government’s 2022 fiscal year.
This second hypersonic weapon is the result of a contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in August 2018, that itself being a surprise sequel to the USAF’s hypersonic weapons push initiated in May 2018. Officials are aiming for ambitious development times amid concerns that Russia and China may be developing similar weapons of their own.
The USAF assistant secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Will Roper said:
We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter. We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners.