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US Air Force expects first ARRW test flight in 30 days

The US Air Force (USAF) is preparing for the first booster test flight (BTF-1) of the USAF/Lockheed Martin AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) to take place within 30 days, the service announced on 5 March.

Immediate work has begun on pre-flight ground tests and checks to obtain certification for the flight to proceed as scheduled. The ARRW test missile was delivered to Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California on 1 March and was loaded on a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress heavy bomber.

The ARRW BTF-1 will demonstrate the booster’s ability to reach operational speeds and collect other important data. In addition to booster performance, the test vehicle will also validate safe separation and controllability of the missile away from the carrier B-52H, through ignition and boost phase, all the way to separation of a simulated glide vehicle. The simulated glider will not sustain flight and will disintegrate soon after separation.

Several additional booster and all-up-round test flights are also expected to take place by the end of the year, Brigadier General Heath Collins, the USAF programme executive officer (PEO) for weapons, was quoted by the service as saying. The 412th Test Wing will conduct the ARRW BTF series over the Point Mugu Sea Range in California.

To ensure the ARRW is mature for a production decision, the USAF and Lockheed Martin took steps to achieve a high level of manufacturing readiness. Assembly of the ARRW booster test vehicle on production-representative manufacturing lines is a major step towards this production-readiness goal.

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