The U.S. Air Force released declassified images Monday showing the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress aircraft carrying a prototype of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW.
According to media reports in recent weeks, a sensor-only version of the ARRW prototype was carried externally by a B-52 during the test to gather environmental and aircraft handling data at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft. 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.
“We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners.”
The Air Force is leading the way in air-launched hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts. As one of two rapid prototyping hypersonic efforts, ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022.
“This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face,” Roper said.
The flight test serves as the first of many flight tests that will expand the test parameters and capabilities of the ARRW prototype.
The ARRW rapid prototyping effort awarded a contract in August 2018 to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Florida, for critical design review, test and production readiness support to facilitate fielded prototypes.