The House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee want to redirect funding from the Lockheed Martin [LMT] AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) to the Air Force’s other hypersonic weapon development effort–the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM).

Both committees’ fiscal 2023 bills contain such a funding redirection, which would result in a $144 million add to the $317 million requested by the Air Force for HACM in the service’s budget request. The action, if agreed to by Senate appropriators and authorizers, would halt ARRW flight testing and could portend the end of the program. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not taken up its defense bill, while a Senate Armed Services Committee executive summary of its mark-up contains no reference to ARRW or HACM.

On May 14, an Air Force B-52H Stratofortress released a prototype ARRW off the southern California in the first flight test success after three aborted attempts last year (Defense Daily, May 17).

“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound,” the Air Force said in a May 17 statement.

The 419th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force (GPB CTF) at Edwards AFB, Calif., performed the May 14 test.

The Air Force is requesting nearly $115 million for research and development in fiscal 2023 for ARRW.

That amount is a decrease of more than $200 million from last year—a drop due to the three failures of ARRW booster flight tests in April, July, and December of last year.

Of the $115 million requested by the Air Force for ARRW in fiscal 2023, the House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2023 defense bill removes the $90 million for further flight testing.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the committee’s defense panel, offered an amendment in the committee markup to restore the $90 million, but that amendment failed on a 27-31 vote. Calvert’s proposed $90 million ARRW restoration was offset “by cutting four climate-related activities funded in the bill that are not directly linked to the department’s warfighting mission,” committee Republicans said. “With China and Russia both outpacing the U.S. with their hypersonic capabilities, we believe this bill must prioritize advanced weapon systems over climate change.”

ARRW is to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets and enable rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.

But Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has said that he wants more analysis on the cost and operational effectiveness of hypersonic missiles.

Kendall has said that air-breathing hypersonic missile designs, such as HACM, using scramjet engines have shown more promise thus far for the U.S. than hypersonic glide vehicles, like ARRW.

“Overall, what we need to get to with hypersonics is the ability to engage moving targets,” Kendall told lawmakers last spring. “Current systems are generally designed for fixed targets, and there are some fixed targets that we might want hypersonics to attack cost effectively, but for the future we want to get to another class of targets.”

For two decades, the U.S. has researched hypersonic missiles for conventional prompt global strike but has only recently begun to take them seriously, in no small part due to China’s and Russia’s reported advances in hypersonic glide technologies.

Before last year’s testing setbacks, ARRW, risibly coined the “super duper weapon” by former President Trump, was to be the nation’s first hypersonic weapon and to achieve an “early operational capability” by the end of fiscal 2022.

The fiscal 2022 omnibus spending act zeroed the $161 million U.S. Air Force request for the buy of the first 12 ARRWs and redirected $80 million of that funding to the Air Force research and development account to remedy an ARRW “testing shortfall” (Defense Daily, March 10).