The Air Force and Lockheed Martin [LMT] have successfully flight tested components of one of the service’s future hypersonic weapons aboard a B-52 Stratofortress bomber.
A sensor-only version of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) flew on a B-52 on June 12 out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, and gathered environmental and aircraft-handling data, the service said June 13.
“The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft,” the Air Force said in a statement. “The prototype did not have explosives and it was not released from the B-52 during the flight test. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.”
The Air Force awarded Lockheed up to $480 million to design and build the ARRW weapon in August 2018. The company is also developing the air-launched Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) for the service (Defense Daily, August 13, 2018).
ARRW completed a preliminary design review this past March, and more ground and flight testing is expected over the next three years, according to the company.
“With hypersonic capabilities being a national security priority, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force are accelerating the maturation and fielding of a hypersonic weapon system,” said Frank St. John, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, in a June 17 statement.
The Air Force is about two years away from an initial hypersonics capability with HCSW, said Will Roper, the service’s acquisition executive, in February during a media roundtable. He said he expects ARRW to reach initial operating capability (IOC) about six months after HCSW (Defense Daily, Feb. 8).