US successfully test-fires a hypersonic missile

© Lockheed Martin

The United States Air Force successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile off the Southern California coast on Dec 9, 2022.

A press release said the missile reached a speed five times greater than the speed of sound. According to experts, it will eventually be able to reach speeds up to Mach 20.

AGM-183A – The US Hypersonic Missile

Earlier tests of the hypersonic missile, though successful, were aimed at proving either the booster performance or avionics, sensors, and communications.

US B-52 carrying a ARRW in May, 2022 © Matt Williams, US Air Force

This time, the ARRW (Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon), named AGM-183A, became the first fully operational prototype of a hypersonic missile to have been tested by the US Air Force.

The All-Up-Round (fully assembled) ARRW was test-fired from a B-52 Stratofortress, a long-range bomber that can carry both nuclear and conventional ordnance.

© Lockheed Martin

Once fired, the ARRW, a boost-glide vehicle, reached hypersonic speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, completed its flight path, and detonated in the terminal area. All objectives were met, said the Air Force.

The 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, executed the test flight of the ARRW.

Brig. Gen. Jason Bartolomei, Armament Directorate Program Executive Officer, said the ARRW team successfully designed and tested the missile in five years and appreciated the tenacity and dedication of the team.

Lockheed Martin is involved in developing the ARRW for the US Air Force.

Apart from the US, only Russia and China are said to possess hypersonic missiles.