The US Air Force (USAF) successfully launched the first operational AGM-183A missile, a hypersonic rapid response weapon (acronym ARRW).
The missile was launched by a B-52H Stratofortress bomber off the southern California coast on Dec. 9, but the exact location has not been revealed.
The USAF had already carried out launches of the AGM-183A, but only for tests on its booster. This time, the weapon was complete, having separated from the aircraft, reached more than five times the speed of sound, and hit the target.
“The ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, Armament Directorate Program executive officer. “I am immensely proud of the tenacity and dedication this team has shown to provide a vital capability to our warfighter.”
The launch fell to the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California. The Air Force must carry out further launches in the coming months in order to obtain operational capability in 2023.
The AGM-183A is a hypersonic missile with conventional propulsion, which triggers a rocket to reach speeds above Mach 5. It is a technology similar to that of the Kinzhal, a missile that was used by Russia in the invasion of Ukraine.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the ARRW was launched on three occasions in 2021, but on two occasions it was stuck to the pylon while in July it failed to activate its booster.
The USAF is also developing another hypersonic weapon, the HACM project (Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile), which has “scramjet” propulsion and is considered more efficient because it can maintain high speeds throughout the journey to the target. .