05 June 2020
The US Air Force (USAF) is expected to acquire an initial batch of operational prototype Lockheed Martin AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic air-to-surface glide weapons in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020). The acquisition is intended to support planned initial flight testing of the weapon system from a B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber in October 2021.
According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Defense Acquisitions Annual Assessment report published in early June, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC’s) Armament Directorate plans “to deliver eight hypersonic missiles: four to conduct flight tests and four spares. Specifically, ARRW plans to develop an operational prototype with solid-fuel booster, ordnance package, and specialised equipment to enable it to be carried on the B-52H”. According to AFLCMC Armament Directorate officials, the ARRW programme “will build knowledge through the flight and operational testing of prototype units, as well as potentially provide an operational capability from the deployment of any remaining spare test units.”
The US Air Force in collaboration with Lockheed Martin, conducted the first captive carriage flight test of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) air-to-surface hypersonic weapon on a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber out of Edwards Air Force Base, California on 12 June 2019.
A rapid prototyping middle-tier acquisition (MTA) programme initiated in March 2018, the USAF AGM-183A ARRW development leverages work from the separate USAF/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) programme. Ongoing work on the TBG serves as a risk reduction enabler for the AGM-183A ARRW. Launched in 2014, the TBG programme is intended to develop and demonstrate technologies to enable future air-launched, tactical-range hypersonic boost glide systems.
The US Air Force (USAF) is expected to acquire an initial batch of operational prototype Lockheed Ma...