The US Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), on June 12. A sensoronly version of the Lockheed Martin designed ARRW prototype was carried externally by a B-52H from Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The instrumented test vehicle gathered data on vibration, drag and other aircraft handling parameters. ARRW is one of two priority Department of Defense programmes to develop a hypersonic weapon capable of more than Mach 5 inside the earth’s atmosphere. The other, the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, or HCSW is also being developed by Lockheed Martin. ARRW is set to reach initial operational capability by FY2022.
The United States is driven to develop the weapons by advances in Chinese and Russian weaponry. Moscow already deploys a hypersonic air-to-surface weapon in the shape of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger) nuclearcapable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and the scramjet-powered 3M22 Zircon ship-killer.