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Dreams of a U.S. Military Hypersonic Missile Are becoming A Reality

The Air Force successfully tested its entire air-launched rapid-reaction weapon (ARRW).

This month, the U.S. is catching up to Russia in hypersonic weapon development. On Friday, the Air Force successfully tested its entire air-launched quick reaction weapon (ARRW).

The first operational prototype missile was launched off Southern California by a B-52H Stratofortress. The Air Force said initial tests proved booster performance, and the Edwards AFB 412th Test Wing tested the ARRW.

The AGM-183A separated from the aircraft, achieved Mach 5 hypersonic speeds, and detonated in the terminal. The Dec. 9 test flight likewise met all objectives.

Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, directorate program executive officer, said the ARRW team designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years. “I am incredibly proud of this team’s tenacity and determination to give a key capability to our warfighter.”

ARRW lets the U.S. risk fixed, high-value, time-sensitive targets in disputed settings.

“This successful test is a result of the commitment, rigour, and dedication of the joint U.S. Government and Lockheed Martin team to develop hypersonic weapons on accelerated timelines to meet critical national security needs,” said Jay Pitman, vice president of air dominance and strike weapons at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in an email to 19FortyFive.

Pitman continued, “We are happy to cooperate with the U.S. Air Force on ARRW, and with this test, We are close to deploying an operational capability to the military.”

Before this event, the ARRW team had done captive carrier flights, sled tests, warhead certification, qualification of solid rocket motors, and two consecutive hypersonic-boosted flight tests.

The program’s recent setbacks include last year’s testing failures that led the Air Force to suspend the project, which was overcome by this month’s test. Air Force officials called those lapses “anomalies.”

Because of concerns that China and Russia are rapidly developing hypersonic weapons, the Pentagon has prioritized testing and development.

After live-fire testing, the ARRW will explore quick production. The AGM-183 ARRW should be operational next fall.

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