US Air Force Successfully Tests AARW Hypersonic Missile

A Boeing B-52H Stratofortress with the 419th Flight Test Squadron, flying out of Edwards Air Force Base, California has successfully tested an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, the US Air Force announced earlier today. The Air Force release noted that “following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for [the] expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound.” This is the first successful test after three earlier ARRW tests in April, July, and December 2021 failed.

“The team’s tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year’s challenges to get us to the recent success,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, “we are ready to build on what we’ve learned and continue moving hypersonics forward.”

The first flight test of the ARRW, as a captive carry simulator to judge drag and other flight effects, was performed on June 12 2019. According to recent US Air Force budget procurement documents, the Air Force has decided not to go through with acquisition of the ARRW in FY23. Instead, the money will be allocated towards research and development of the existing prototypes.

Flight track credit: Flightradar24, Warning area credit: NGA, Baselayer credit: ChartBundle

Analysis of open source flight tracking data reveals that only one air-to-air refueling tanker aircraft – a KC-10A with callsign “SCARY95” – flew over the Point Mugu Sea Range off the southern coast of California on the day of the test. The tanker flew near to a maritime “warning area” that was active between 16:00 and 23:00 Universal Coordinated Time, which lines up with the identified tanker flight.

The commander of the 419th Flight Test Squadron and Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force director, Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, said: “Our highly-skilled team made history on this first air-launched hypersonic weapon. We’re doing everything we can to get this game-changing weapon to the warfighter as soon as possible.”