Recently, the U.S. Air Force 780th Test Squadron successfully detonated an AGM-183 ARRW warhead for the first time. The first-of-its-kind test for the air-to-ground, rocket-powered, high-altitude, hypersonic missile collected data on the lethality of the unique weapon. The USAF conducted the first captive-carry flight test of ARRW missile in June 2019, while the second flight test of the missile was completed in August 2020. The unique nature and shape of the warhead required a lot of firsts for everyone involved, according to the test’s manager, David Spiker 780th TS.
Some of the firsts were the new and construction of the test arena, the test procedures and equipment, the warhead’s fragmentation data collecting and the post-test data processing to ensure the warhead’s effects have been accurately characterized. The 780th TS successfully designed and conducted the test to ensure the customer’s data requirements were met using new and improved test tools, technologies, and techniques. This successful test positioned Eglin’s test team to remain at the forefront to support the testing of hypersonic weapons long into the future.
The AGM-183 ARRW (“Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon”) is a hypersonic weapon planned for use by the United States Air Force. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the boost glide weapon is propelled to a maximum speed of Mach 7+ by a missile before gliding towards its target. A “Super-Duper Missile” was announced by US President Donald Trump on May 15, 2020. The missile will improve the hypersonic strike capabilities of the USAF. It will provide rapid response by striking high-value, time-dependent targets in challenging locations.
The AGM-183A has a claimed maximum speed of 15,345 miles per hour (24,695 km/h). The weapon uses a boost-glide system, in which it is propelled to hypersonic speed by a rocket on which it is mounted before gliding towards a target. AGM-183A ARRW missile is being developed as a small-sized, air-launched weapon system with the speed of up to Mach 20 and a range of approximately 925km (575mi). The missile will be carried under the wing of the B-52H bomber aircraft. The early operational capability (EOC) of the missile is planned to be achieved in September 2022.