The US Air Force has conducted another test launch of the AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missile.
The live-fire testing occurred off the coast of southern California, with a B-52H bomber facilitating the launch on August 19. A spokesperson for the Air Force’s 96th Test Wing clarified the nature of the test, stating, “This test launched a full prototype operational hypersonic missile and focused on the ARRW’s end-to-end performance.” The test provided “valuable new insights into the capabilities of this new, cutting-edge technology” and emphasized the value of the data acquired for the development of other hypersonic systems like ARRW and Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missiles (HACM).
The AGM-183 primarily utilizes a rocket booster and an unpowered hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. This vehicle, traveling above Mach 5, possesses speed, maneuverability, and trajectory blend that challenges interception attempts.
The ARRW’s testing history is mixed; out of its live-fire tests, two were failures, one was partially successful, and two succeeded. These results influenced the Air Force’s decision to cancel the ARRW project, redirecting its focus to the HACM.
In 2022, Raytheon was selected to design and build the HACM, a departure from Lockheed Martin, the main contractor for ARRW.