The United States Air Force has announced a second successful free flight testing of the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, off the coast of California on July 12. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the ARRW is an air-launched hypersonic boost glide weapon, meaning that the entire weapon uses rockets to reach speeds of Mach 5 before an integrated glide vehicle releases and heads towards the target.
“This was another important milestone for the Air Force’s first air-launched hypersonic weapon. The test successfully demonstrated booster performance expanding the operational envelope. We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year. Congratulations to the entire ARRW team, your dedication and expertise are what got us here,” said Brig Gen. Heath Collins, Armament Directorate program executive officer.
The AGM-183 program has been plagued with issues. Development began in 2018 with Lockheed receiving nearly $500 million in funding and initial testing proved to be optimistic, with President Trump touting it as the “Super-Duper Missile.” However, when it came to test flights, all three failed in 2021. In February, the U.S. Air Force signaled that it had no plans to buy ARRWs in its 2023 budget after already cutting funding to the program by nearly a half. As of right now, the program isn’t dead as seen in this latest testing and its first successful free flight back in May, but it faces frequent setbacks and delays. If all goes well, the ARRW is expected to have early operational status by some point next year.
This latest development comes amid a successful testing of the OpFires Medium-Range Hypersonic Missile off of a United States Marine Corps logistics truck as the chassis for the Transporter-Erector-Launcher. Tessaron did an article on this, which I will link here.