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Update: US Air Force launches second-to-last AGM-183A ARRW all-up round

A B-52H Stratofortress takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 2021, to conduct a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A ARRW Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2. (US Air Force/Matt Williams)

The US Air Force (USAF) launched a Lockheed Martin AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on 12 October.

“This test launched a full prototype operational hypersonic missile and focused on the ARRW's end-to-end performance,” the USAF said in a statement. “The air force gained valuable new insights into the capabilities of this new, cutting-edge technology. While we won't discuss specific test objectives, this test acquired valuable, unique data and was intended to further a range of programs such as ARRW and Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM).”

Notably absent from the statement is the mention of whether the ARRW reached its target or achieved all its objectives; a statement about ARRW's most recent launch on 13 March contained similar language despite later being described as a “failure” by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall.

Kendall told the US House Armed Services Committee on 29 March that two all-up ARRW rounds remained, and that the USAF intended to launch them to gather data for future hypersonic programmes. The 12 October launch likely leaves one remaining ARRW, with its launch date unclear.

The USAF told Janes following the 13 March test that purchasing additional ARRW missiles would be an “event-driven” decision, to be settled after “operational utility is demonstrated through successful [launches]”. Given the unclear result of the 12 October test, additional ARRW purchases appear unlikely.

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