Let’s Talk About The U.S. Air Force’s AGM-183 ARRW Hypersonic Weapon Test From Guam



File photograph of an AGM-183 ARRW prototype being loaded on the B-52H . (Picture: U.S. Air Pressure)

The check was carried out on March 17, few weeks after the missile was photographed at Andersen Air Pressure Base underneath a B-52’s wing.

The U.S. Air Pressure confirmed {that a} B-52H Stratofortress, departed from Andersen Air Pressure Base,  Guam, launched a dwell AGM-183 Air-Launched Speedy Response Weapon on March 17, 2024, in what may very well be the final check of the hypersonic weapon. The check, the primary of a US hypersonic weapon within the Indo-Pacific space, was type of anticipated,  as rumors began circulating after the missile’s presence on Guam was acknowledged by the Air Pressure and the looks of a NOTAM for weapon testing.

“A B-52H Stratofortress performed a check of the All-Up-Spherical AGM-183A Air-launched Speedy Response Weapon,” stated an Air Pressure spokesperson. “This check launched a full prototype operational hypersonic missile and centered on the ARRW’s end-to-end efficiency The check happened on the Reagan Check Website with the B-52 taking off from Andersen Air Pressure Base, Guam on March 17, 2024 native time.”

The service didn’t say if the check was profitable, nevertheless it talked about that the check offered “worthwhile insights into the capabilities of this new, cutting-edge know-how”. No point out was made additionally relating to whether or not the missile struck the floor or a goal, though the latest DOT&E report acknowledged that end-to-end check up till the impression was deliberate. The Reagan Check Website, close to Kwajalein Atoll, was used prior to now for impact testing of different weapons.

“This check acquired worthwhile, distinctive knowledge and was meant to additional a variety of hypersonic packages,” the spokesperson added. “We additionally validated and improved our check and analysis capabilities for continued growth of superior hypersonic techniques.” An vital half within the knowledge gathering throughout the check was performed by naval floor check monitoring vessels and Missile Protection Company monitoring plane that have been seen deploying and working within the space on the time of the check.

Lockheed Martin, the producer of the AGM-183, talked about that this was certainly the final check of the ARRW program and added it is able to ship ARRW know-how or different hypersonic capabilities to the Air Pressure. The corporate is, actually, working additionally on the opposite hypersonic program of the Air Pressure, the Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept.

“Following the latest end-to-end flight check, Lockheed Martin has accomplished the check program with full confidence in ARRW’s revolutionary capabilities, and we stand able to ship this fully-qualified, hypersonic answer to the U.S. Air Pressure,” the corporate stated. “Constructing on ARRW’s industry-leading know-how and testing success, Lockheed Martin can shortly ship further hypersonic-strike belongings that may be quickly deployed to the U.S. navy.”

B-52 Stratofortress crews from the twenty third Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Pressure Base, North Dakota and the forty ninth Check and Analysis Squadron, Barksdale Air Pressure Base, Louisiana, participated in hypersonic weapon familiarization coaching at Andersen Air Pressure Base, Guam, Feb. 27, 2024. Hypersonics is an attribute being pursued for superior munitions. The Division of Protection is creating hypersonic science and know-how to make sure the U.S. can quickly transition operational hypersonic techniques. (U.S. Air Pressure photograph by Workers Sgt. Pedro Tenorio)

The missile’s arrival on Guam

The U.S. Air Pressure revealed on February 29 pictures exhibiting a dwell (yellow-band) AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon underneath the wing of a B-52H which  deployed to Andersen Air Pressure Base for a Bomber Activity Pressure. The pictures, in response to the press assertion, have been shot on Feb. 27, as B-52 crews from the twenty third Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and forty ninth Check and Analysis Squadron participated in hypersonic weapon familiarization coaching.

The taking part crews obtained expert academics and training on hypersonic fundamentals and took part in tactical dialogue on hypersonic operations to extend operational readiness and put together a number of Air Pressure plane communities for hypersonics together with the Hypersonic Assault Cruise Missile, Air-launched Speedy Response Weapon, and different packages underneath growth. The crews centered on the basics of hypersonics, operational and logistics concerns, and in-depth tactical discussions.

The pictures are significantly significative as Guam is located in a strategic position within the Indo-Pacific area and, to our information, that is the primary time a US hypersonic weapon is seen this near China. The March 17 check is now much more significative and, because it was supposed to copy an operational mission the place the bomber flies for 4,000 km earlier than launching the hypersonic weapon,  many noticed this as a sign to China. Actually, US hypersonic know-how is usually thought-about behind China’s, nevertheless the Division of Protection is working to quickly discipline operational hypersonic techniques, with many packages being pursued by Air Pressure, Navy and Military, though they suffered quite a few setbacks.

The AGM-183 ARRW

The AGM-183A ARRW relies on hypersonic glide car know-how derived from the Air Pressure and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Science and Know-how (S&T) Demonstration often known as Tactical Enhance Glide (TBG). A fragmenting glide car is launched from a traditional rocket, or extra exactly a Stable-Rocket Motor (SRM) booster, to the higher environment and, as soon as it reaches hypersonic speeds, it separates from the rocket and glides to its goal at speeds as much as Mach 15. At these speeds, there isn’t any want for a traditional explosive warhead because the kinetic power alone delivered throughout impression could be sufficient to destroy most targets.

The Air Pressure additionally outlined the ARRW as an “operational hypersonic air-launched weapon enabling the U.S. to carry fastened, excessive worth, time-sensitive targets in danger in contested environments from standoff distances.” The missile would have offered a survivable, deadly, long-range strike functionality to go after high-end capabilities of a possible adversary, equivalent to deep-inland strike towards targets of strategic significance and coastal strike towards high-end techniques. Initially, the anticipated introduction in service of the AGM-183 was deliberate for 2022.

An illustration depicting the enhance glide idea utilized to the AGM-183A ARRW and its flight profile. (Picture: Airman Journal/U.S. Air Pressure)

Final yr, the Air Pressure stated it doesn’t at present intend to pursue follow-on procurement of ARRW as soon as the prototyping program concludes, including that there’s inherent profit to finishing the all-up spherical check flights to garner the educational and check knowledge that can assist inform future hypersonic packages. The choice apparently was influenced by the most recent check flight of the missile at the moment, which ended with another failure. The FY 2025 Finances Request additionally doesn’t embody ARRW.

Though the Air Pressure determined in April 2023 to not pursue the procurement of the weapon, the Director, Operational Check & Analysis report not too long ago talked about that the ARRW program has proven preliminary indications that it may turn out to be an operationally deadly weapon, nevertheless the dearth of terminal characterization knowledge to this point, as a consequence of technical failure of the check vary sensor techniques within the December 2022 check and the shroud not ejecting in March 2023, doesn’t but enable for a full evaluation. Preliminary information launched from the August 2023 check’s knowledge evaluation say it achieved nominal circumstances.

The report continues saying that, given the restricted variety of deliberate check occasions, there’s a threat that the check program will be unable to show the ARRW deadly results towards the required tactical and strategic targets. The survivability evaluation estimated the chance {that a} single ARRW will full its mission, given the capabilities of assorted early warning radars, surface-to-air missile techniques, and anti-aircraft artillery batteries to detect and interact ARRW in varied one-on-one eventualities, indicating that it’s going to meet its survivability necessities.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally learning to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of navy operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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