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Lockheed Martin‘s ARRW completes boosted hypersonic flight test after three failures

A B-52H Stratofortress conducts a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A ARRW. The 14 May boosted flight test comes after three failed attempts and several captive-carry tests. (US Air Force/Matt Williams)

Lockheed Martin‘s AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) completed a boosted flight test on 14 May, the US Air Force (USAF) announced on 16 May.

The hypersonic weapon was released from a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress and its booster ignited. The USAF said the booster burned for the “expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound”. The USAF told Janes that it could not provide further details on the duration and other aspects of the test.

Lockheed Martin said the test flight “demonstrates the weapon's ability to reach and withstand operational hypersonic speeds, collect crucial data for use in further flight tests, and validate safe separation from the aircraft to deliver the glide body and warhead to designated targets from significant stand-off distances”.

The 14 May test was the first successful launch of the ARRW after it failed three flight tests in 2021. The weapon had undergone several captive-carry tests before this.

The test was conducted off the coast of southern California by the 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force (GPB CTF) stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The USAF is using rapid prototyping and performance data from the separate Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/USAF Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) programme in developing ARRW.

Additional booster and all-up-round test flights (end-to-end test flights) will take place in 2022, Lockheed Martin said. The company expects ARRW to reach early operational capability (EOC) in 2023.

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