US Air Force Successfully Tested ARRW Hypersonic Missile

The US Air Force announced Monday it successfully tested a cutting-edge strategic weapon that is also being developed by China and Russia – a fully operational prototype of its hypersonic Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).

According to the Air Force’s statement, the AGM-183A ARRW was launched on Friday from a B-52H Stratofortress bomber off Southern California’s coast, and then rapidly accelerated to greater than five times the speed of sound, completed its scheduled flight path, and detonated in the terminal area.

Designed to enable the US Air Force to hold fixed, high-value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments, ARRW’s test flight was executed by the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California.

The Armament Directorate Program executive officer, Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei pointed out that the ARRW team successfully designed and tested an air-launched hypersonic missile in five years, noting that having multiple hypersonic weapons programs, Pentagon’s high-tech research body DARPA tested a different missile earlier this year.

Since they can be steered to deliver nuclear weapons precisely on target and at speeds too fast to intercept, hypersonic missiles pose a potential threat to the global military balance.

While Beijing tested a hypersonic missile- which flew around the world before hitting its target- last year, Moscow went a step ahead by using hypersonic weapons – its hypersonic Kinzhal missiles – during its war in Ukraine in perhaps the first time such weapons have been used in war.

In its 2022 Missile Defense Review report, the US highlighted the growing danger from hypersonic weapons, which are posing an increasingly complex threat due to their dual (nuclear/conventional) capable nature, their maneuverability, and the challenging flight profile, designed to evade US sensors and defensive systems.

As both China and Russia have shown advancements in their own programs, the Pentagon has placed an increased emphasis on hypersonic weapons’ testing and development as the US found itself falling further behind due to several testing failures.

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