EDWARDS AFB — A B-52 bomber from Edwards Air Force Base was used to successfully test a hypersonic weapon, on May 14, the Air Force announced.
The AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) is in development by Lockheed Martin for the Air Force. It is intended to be launched from an aircraft and boosted by a rocket to travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5 to its target.
In the recent test, the bomber, taking off from Edwards AFB, carried the missile over the Pacific Ocean for the test launch.
Once the ARRW was released, its booster ignited and burned for the expected duration, reaching hypersonic speeds, according to an Air Force statement.
Hypersonic refers to speeds in excess of Mach 5, and is a frontier researchers have been striving to employ effectively for decades. The field has recently gained traction, with projects in development on a number of fronts.
The 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force, or GPB CTF, both at Edwards, executed the test.
“The test team made sure we executed this test flawlessly,” Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, 419th FLTS commander and GPB CTF director, said in the Air Force statement. “Our highly skilled team made history on this first air-launched hypersonic weapon. We’re doing everything we can to get this game-changing weapon to the warfighter as soon as possible.”
The successful flight follows three unsuccessful flight test attempts, last year. Twice the missile failed to release from the bomber; in another attempt, it released, but the booster failed to ignite, according to published reports.
“This was a major accomplishment by the ARRW team, for the weapons enterprise, and our Air Force,” Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, said. “The team’s tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year’s challenges to get us to the recent success. We are ready to build on what we’ve learned and continue moving hypersonics forward.”