Lockheed Martin just produced a missile that has gone faster than 5 times the speed of sound. The Air Force reported on Monday that the first operational prototype of the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missile had successfully completed a test from a B-52H Stratofortress.
Hypersonic weapons have the ability to travel faster than Mach 5 and can maneuver in midair, making them more challenging to track and neutralize compared to traditional ballistic missiles, with the added capability to better infiltrate a given defense system.
Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, Armament Directorate Program executive officer, stated the following: “The ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years. I am immensely proud of the tenacity and dedication this team has shown to provide a vital capability to our warfighter.” Lockheed Martin released a statement saying “that ‘this latest successful flight test proves the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW)’s design and demonstrates its capability at hypersonic speeds.’”
Jay Pitman, Vice President of Air Dominance and Strike Weapons at Lockheed Missiles and Fire Control, stated: “This successful test is a result of the commitment, rigor, and dedication of the joint U.S. Government and Lockheed Martin team to develop hypersonic weapons on accelerated timelines to meet critical national security needs. We are proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force on ARRW, and with this test, we are on the cusp of an operational capability that can be deployed to the men and women in uniform.”
This hypersonic victory comes after a string of successful booster tests in 2022. However, the achievement has not come without struggle. Lockheed Martin failed three booster tests in 2021, much to the ire of Congressmen and Generals alike.
The United States military has come under pressure, especially from Congress, to demonstrate more progress on its own hypersonic capabilities as both Russia and China have made significant investments in building their own hypersonic weapons. This successful flight paves the way for direct competition with other adversaries in the years to come.