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US Air Force launches final AGM-183A ARRW all-up round

US B-52 Stratofortress crews look at an AGM-183 ARRW during a hypersonic weapon familiarisation briefing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on 27 February. The yellow bands on the missile indicate that it is a live round. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Pedro Tenorio)

The US Air Force (USAF) launched the last AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on 17 March, completing the hypersonic missile's formal test programme. ARRW has a chequered test history, and although the test likely succeeded in meeting its goals, the USAF has yet to decide whether it will continue the programme.

“This test launched a full prototype operational hypersonic missile and focused on the ARRW's end-to-end performance,” a USAF spokesperson told Janes on 21 March. “While we won't discuss specific test objectives, this test acquired valuable, unique data and was intended to further a range of hypersonic programmes. We also validated and improved our test and evaluation capabilities for continued development of advanced hypersonic systems.”

The USAF statement on the 17 March test is virtually identical to the one that followed the second-to-last ARRW launch on 12 October 2023. The results of that test have not been publicly released.

The USAF confirmed that for the 17 March flight, ARRW's B-52 mother ship lifted off from Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam, and launched the missile at a target area located within the Reagan Test Site near the island of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Further details of the tests are publicly unknown; however, a safety notice issued to mariners in early March suggests that an ARRW's B-52 mother ship was to launch from a point 1,140 n miles north of the island.

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