The U.S. Air Force said on July 13 that a prototype Lockheed Martin [LMT] AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) scored its second booster flight test success on July 12 off the southern California coast.
ARRW Booster Test Flight-3 “was the 12th flight for the program and third release demonstration,” the Air Force said in a statement. “The AGM-183A weapon system reached hypersonic speeds and primary and secondary objectives were met.”
On May 14, an Air Force B-52H Stratofortress released a prototype ARRW off southern California in the first flight test success after three aborted attempts last year (Defense Daily, May 17).
Booster Test Flight-3 Air Force “successfully demonstrated booster performance expanding the operational envelope,” Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the program executive officer of Air Force Materiel Command’s armament directorate at Eglin AFB, Fla., said in the Air Force statement. “We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year.”
The House Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee want to redirect funding from 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 (Defense Daily, July 1). 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.
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.
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.
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).