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USAF deploys hypersonic ARRW on Guam for testing

US B-52 Stratofortress crews look at an AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (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/SSgt Pedro Tenorio)

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed a hypersonic AGM-183 Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on Guam for testing.

The presence of this hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) was disclosed in USAF-published photographs on 28 February. The missile's appearance on Guam comes nearly a year after the ARRW programme was slated for cancellation.

USAF spokesperson Ann Stefanek told Janes on 5 March that the ARRW programme is “in the operational test phase”. Separately, a safety notice issued by the Maritime Safety Office details a weapons test to be held in the Central Pacific, at Kwajalein, from 3 to 10 March. It is likely that the missile has already undergone a test or will be test-launched from a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress deployed on Guam during this period.

However, in response to a query about whether the test had been conducted, a USAF spokesperson told Janes on 8 March that no additional information was available on the matter.

The maritime warning bulletin suggests that the crew of the B-52H will fly a distance of over 1,900 n miles northeast of Guam to a launch point north of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. The missile is expected to travel a distance of 1,140 n miles before impacting a target location in the atoll.

According to a Lockheed Martin spokesperson, the ARRW is “currently in the development phase of the contract”. This “includes providing a leave-behind capability”, the spokesperson said on 7 March.

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