Air Force mum on whether latest ARRW hypersonic test was successful

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ARRW Captive Carry Test Aug 2020

Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), 2020 Captive Carry Test. (Air Force photo by Kyle Brasier)

WASHINGTON – The Air Force lately conducted a second comprehensive test for its new airborne hypersonic rapid reaction weapon (ARRW) and although a service Today’s press release said the prototype missile “fulfilled several of the objectives of the test flight,” but it’s unclear if that was the case exam was fully successful.

“A B-52H Stratofortress fired the second all-up-round AGM-183A Rapid Response Weapon airborne missile off the coast of Southern California on March 13, 2023. This test marked the second launch of a full prototype operational hypersonic missile and focused on the end-to-end performance of the ARRW.

“The test has met several of the objectives and the engineers and testers on the ARRW team are collecting data for further analysis,” the press release added.

The first all-up round or fully assembled test of the rocket was carried out in Decemberan event where the Air Force said “all goals were achieved” and said the missile launch was “successful”.. The services opinion Today did not say whether the latest study met all of its stated goals, raising questions about how ARRW performed in its second assessment for the program’s final testing phase. An Air Force spokesman declined to provide further details about the test results when asked by Breaking Defense.

RELATED: After successful hypersonic test, Air Force acquisitions chief is still skeptical

Built by Lockheed Martin, the air-to-surface hypersonic weapon is intended to be launched by bombers to dash at targets at speeds in excess of Mach 5. Their development was bumpy: a series of three consecutive failed tests for the booster phase of the rocket prompted the legislature to do so cut funding for the program to prevent the Air Force from beginning procurement Fiscal year 2022.

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The Air Force then planned to start procurement in FY23, but during the service’s budget unveiling last year, officials said they would try to wire those funds back to research and development. The program finally reached a successful launch in May 2022, but after another successful flight test in July, Air Force acquisitions chief Andrew Hunter said the service was up still uncertain about further procurement.

The Air Force’s reluctance to purchase the missile extended into FY24, where officials recently unveiled They would request $150 million to continue development, but again would not provide funds for procurement. said Maj. Gen. Mike Greiner, the Air Force deputy assistant budgetary secretary, during a March 13 briefing – on the same day as the last ARRW launch – the The service scheduled a total of four full-scale tests that would complete the RDT&E funding in FY24. After the most recent overall round, there are now two more critical tests that, according to Greiner, would play a key role in an acquisition decision.

“I’m telling you, I don’t think a final decision has been made. We’ll wait and see what these test results turn out to be,” said Greiner at that timewhich also relates to the development of the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), the Air Force’s other premier hypersonic effort.

“There will also be a discussion about that [the] Mixture of weapons, right, so both really cater to two different types of platforms,” ​​he added. “I think we’re going to continue that analysis and see what those test results look like [turn out] and then make a final decision on what mix of hypersonic weapons is right for the Air Force going forward.”

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