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US Air Force Tests Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon

The AGM-183A ARRW, a hypersonic missile designed by Lockheed Martin, is to improve the USAF's strike capabilities. 

The US Air Force (USAF) announced on Monday an electronics test in its development of a hypersonic missile capable of targeting enemy military bases in challenging locations as well as surface warships.

The successful test has shown that a B-52H Stratofortress bomber can deploy the USAF’s AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) after receiving target data from electronic sensors at a distance of more than 1,000 miles (1,620 km) and complete simulated missile strikes from 700 miles (1,134 km) away.

“We were really exercising the data links that we needed in order to complete that kill chain loop, and then get the feedback to the players in the airspace that the simulated hypersonic missile was fired and effective,” 53rd Test Management Group deputy commander Lt. Col. Joe Little said.

The test involved a more than 13-hour flight from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana to Alaska and back. It took place during Northern Edge 21— a military exercise that “provides training, improves joint interoperability, and enhances combat readiness” of service members from the USAF, US Army, US Navy, and US Marine Corps.

AGM-183A ARRW

The AGM-183A ARRW is a hypersonic missile designed by Lockheed Martin to improve the US Air Force’s strike capabilities.

It provides “rapid response, time critical capability that will overcome distance in contested environments using high speed and altitude” and “enables the US to hold high value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments from stand-off distances,” as stated on the Lockheed Martin website.

The ARRW has previously undergone multiple tests, one of which took place on April 5, when a missile booster vehicle failed to launch from a B-52H Stratofortress. The test was conducted from Edwards Air Force Base in California over the Point Mugu Sea Range in the Pacific Ocean.

Lockheed Martin was awarded $480 million in August 2018 for hypersonic missile development. In December 2019, it received a $988.8 million contract modification for the critical design review, test, and production readiness support of the ARRW. The missile is expected to be operational by 2022.

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