Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force have completed the first flight test of a tactical version of the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW),media reported. On August 8, 2020, the missile, which was strapped under the wings of the B-52 Stratofortress bomber, was tested over Edwards Air Force Base in California, but did not fly freely during the test.
Hypersonic weapons can penetrate existing air defense systems at speeds of more than Mach 5 (5440 km/h). However, flying at five times the speed of sound requires a series of careful steps to overcome many major technical obstacles.
The AGM-183A is an unmanned glide hypersonic missile designed to be deployed on an aircraft, then accelerated above Mach 5 by rocket propulsion and eventually glided to its target. It is smaller than other candidate hypersonic weapons and can be carried in large quantities by the B-52, and can even be mounted on F-15 fighter jets.
The missile has flown in 2020, but Lockheed says the first assembled tactical prototype has been used in recent tests, suggesting the project is moving beyond pure research to a practical weapons system. The purpose of the loading flight is to test the new tactical hardware, and the carrier is fully equipped to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data. It is reported that the ground and flight test program will continue for another two years.
No officials have made any official statements on when the free-flight test will begin and when the AGM-183A or its successors will begin service.
Dave Berganini, program director for Lockheed Martin’s Missile and Fire Control division, said, “The team has overcome the major challenges posed by the new Crown virus pandemic to achieve this important milestone in this project. This mission is the guide for our first booster test flight scheduled for the early 1920s. “