Monday, May 27, 2024

US Air Force Finalizes Tests on Lockheed’s Mach 5+ ARRW Hypersonic Missile

The United States Air Force has recently completed the expected final test of the cutting-edge AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), Lockheed Martin’s hypersonic missile. 

The announcement draws attention to the incredible pace of advancements being made in defense technology.

The Final Test

US Air Force
Credits: DepositPhotos

The unassuming B-52H Stratofortress lifted off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, carrying with it the fully operational ARRW prototype. The test was carried out at the Ronald Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, an Army facility designed for large-scale military tests.

Although the details and objectives of the final test remain confidential, an Air Force spokesperson commented, stating the test “gained valuable insights into the capabilities” of the Lockheed Martin-developed hypersonic weapon. 

Beyond data collection, this final test contributes to providing validation and improvements for the testing and evaluation capabilities necessary for the ongoing development of advanced hypersonic systems.

Read More: EV Startup Fisker Seeks $150M Lifeline, Halts Production Amid Market Turbulence

Global Space Race: Hypersonic Weapons

The ARRW is one of the Air Force’s leading programs aimed at the development of an air-launched hypersonic weapon designed to fly faster than Mach 5 while maintaining high maneuverability. 

Hypersonic programs have seen increased investment from global powerhouses like China and Russia, ratcheting up the pressure on the Pentagon to demonstrate progress toward the United States’ equivalent capabilities.

In the face of this international competition, the ARRW has had its hurdles. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall mentioned that the ARRW program “struggled” in testing, with a failed test run in March 2023. 

Looking ahead, the Air Force plans to wrap up its rapid prototyping program, despite a lack of dedicated funding for procurement or research and development of the ARRW in 2025.

Also Read: Cisco Acquires Splunk for $28 Billion, Bolstering Data Analytics Expertise

The Future of Hypersonic Capabilities

US Air Force
Credits: DepositPhotos

Not all hypersonic research ends with the ARRW; Frank Kendall’s more optimistic focus lands on the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) program. 

Developed by Northrop Grumman and RTX subsidiary Raytheon, the HACM weapon is an air-breathing missile considered smaller than the ARRW. What sets it apart is its ability to fly along “vastly different trajectories” compared to the boost-glide path of the ARRW. 

The fiscal 2025 budget proposes a substantial $517 million to continue developing the HACM program.

Deciding on the most suitable future hypersonic capabilities is a decision for which the Air Force anticipates the final ARRW test can provide valuable insights.

The continuance of tests and advancements in hypersonic weapons represents a new era in the defense industry. 

While this scale of innovation presents its challenges, from “struggled” test runs to securing funding, the benefits of bolstering the United States’ arsenal with groundbreaking capabilities may be an achievement worth pursuing. 

As global competitors increase their investments, the stakes, and speed, in the era of hypersonic defense only continue to heighten.

Read Next: United Airlines and Boeing Under Scrutiny: Four Safety Incidents in One Month Prompt Swift Action

(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles