U.S. Air Force Hypersonic Weapon Testing

The United States. Air Force just successfully tested a Lockheed Martin AGM-183A on board a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base.

U.S. Air Force dreams of incorporating a hypersonic missile into its arsenal progressed another stage closer to reality on Saturday with news of a successful test of a Lockheed Martin AGM-183A weapon on board a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Here’s how the latest military test went down.

14 Months Of Tests

The AGM-183A—also dubbed the ARRW (pronounced “Arrow” and short for Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon—was tested by the base’s 419th Flight Test Squadron and Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force. Checklist items that needed to be addressed involved telemetry and GPS data transmission from the missile to California coastal ground stations at the U.S. Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Range.

Also examined was the ability of the missile to systematically integrate with the bomber’s launch platform. According to test officials, those items and everything else on the list passed with flying colors. It’s been more than a year of testing the ARRW, which has shown great promise ever since the weapon had its first test aboard the B-52 in June 2019 to evaluate its ability to handle drag and vibration impact.

Hypersonics Being Fast-Tracked

The Pentagon’s been high on the prospects of hypersonic missiles after preliminary designs demonstrated they can travel at five times the speed of sound for more than a thousand miles. That means more long-range firepower, which enticed the Pentagon to fast-track the development of these missiles.

So far, the prototyping of these weapons has been encouraging although there will be at least another year of aerial and ground testing. Once ready for service, commanders hope that the missiles will be speedy, precise, flexible, and have the distance to neutralize remote and strategic targets quickly.

Other Weapon Pursuits

The U.S. Air Force is not the only military body investigating the use of these missiles as possible combat game-changers. The U.S. Army has expressed interest in a hypersonic weapon as well as a strategic long-range cannon to boost its capacity to hit enemy targets from further distances.

Additionally, the Air Force has been putting more investment into modernizing its jet fighter fleet, most recently announcing the eventual replacement of an aging F-15E fleet with newer F-15EX planes that are capable of hauling a larger weapon payload.

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