AGM-183 ARRW
A prototype AGM-183A is pictured carried by a U.S. Air Force B-52 in a June 2019 test.
TypeAir-launched ballistic missile with hypersonic glide vehicle
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used byUnited States Air Force (Active)
Production history
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Unit cost$15-$18 million[1]
Specifications
Mass6,600 lb (3,000 kg)
Length22 ft (6.7 m)

Operational
range
1,000 mi (1,600 km)[2][3]
Maximum speed Mach 7+ (planned)[3]
Launch
platform
B-1B/B-52/B-21/F-15E[4]

The AGM-183 ARRW ("Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon") is[5] a hypersonic air-to-ground ballistic missile planned for use by the United States Air Force. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the boost-glide vehicle is propelled to a maximum speed of more than Mach 5[6] by a rocket motor before gliding toward its target.[7][3] The program was cancelled in March 2023 after multiple failed tests.[8] The program, however, continued despite the cancellation and was announced to still be in development following additional, undisclosed testing.[9]

History

Development and acquisition

In August 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded a $480 million contract to Lockheed Martin for the development of an air-launched hypersonic weapon.[10] The resulting missile, the AGM-183A ARRW ("Arrow"), underwent an initial captive carry flight test aboard a U.S. Air Force B-52 in June 2019.[10]

In February 2020, the Trump Administration proposed a 23% increase in funding for hypersonic weapons, and the same month, the U.S. Air Force announced it had decided to move forward with acquisition of the AGM-183A.[11][12]

In March 2020, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin stated that the United States was "close at hand" to having a hypersonic boost-glide weapon ready to field.[13]

In early 2023, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a production run of 300 ARRWs would have a unit cost of $14.9 million per missile and a program cost of $5.3 billion including platform integration and 20 years of sustainment. For a production run of 100, each copy would cost $18 million with a program cost of $2.2 billion.[1]

Theorized relation to the "Super-Duper Missile"

A "Super-Duper Missile" was announced by US President Donald Trump during a press availability in the Oval Office on May 15, 2020.[14][15] According to Trump, the Super-Duper Missile is 17 times faster than existing missiles in the United States arsenal; however, Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association believes the claim may have been a misstatement.[16][17][18] PBS news correspondent Nick Schifrin has theorized that the "Super-Duper Missile" is the AGM-183A, as has the China Times.[19][20]

Design and performances

According to Popular Mechanics, the U.S. Air Force was considering using the remaining fleet of B-1Bs as AGM-183 firing platforms.

The AGM-183A had a claimed maximum speed of more than 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 km/h; Mach 20).[21]

The weapon used a boost-glide system, in which it was propelled to hypersonic speed by a rocket on which it was mounted before gliding toward a target.[11] According to Popular Mechanics, the U.S. Air Force was, as of April 2020, considering using the remaining fleet of B-1B bombers as AGM-183A firing platforms, with each aircraft carrying up to 31 of the weapons mounted internally and on external pylons.[21]

Testing

A booster flight test of ARRW took place in April 2021 at Point Mugu Sea Range, off the coast of Southern California but did not launch successfully;[22] this was the eighth test for ARRW.[23]

Another test in May 2021 for the ARRW's avionics, sensors and communications systems, was successful. The test did not use any of the ARRW's systems but instead used a B-52 based system. On a flight to Alaska from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, the B-52 was able to receive target data from over 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km) away.[24]

In July 2021, a second flight test at Point Mugu Sea Range, again being dropped from a B-52 bomber, was a failure as the solid rocket motor failed to ignite.[25][26] On December 15, 2021, the third flight test failed to launch as well.[27] On March 9, 2022, Congress halved funding for ARRW and transferred the balance to ARRW's R&D account to allow for further testing, which puts the procurement contract at risk.[28]

On May 14, 2022, the 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base conducted the first successful test of the ARRW off the coast of Southern California. The weapon demonstrated separation from the B-52H Stratofortress. Its booster ignited and burned for the expected duration, and the weapon was able to achieve speeds greater than Mach 5 (6,100 km/h; 3,800 mph).[29]

The USAF conducted another successful test of the missile on July 12, 2022.[30][31]

The USAF completed the first All-Up-Round (AUR) test on December 9, 2022.[32] This test included both the booster and hypersonic glide vehicle.[33] The USAF 412th Test Wing used a B-52H Stratofortress, at Edwards Air Force Base.[34]

On March 13, 2023, the United States Air Force conducted a hypersonic test-launch of an operational AGM-183A prototype from a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress by the 412th Test Wing located at Edwards Air Force Base in California.[35] Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the test had failed.[8]

On August 19, 2023, the Air Force conducted another test of the ARRW, and said it had "gained valuable new insights into the capabilities" of ARRW.[36]

On October 12, 2023, the Air Force conducted another test of the ARRW, and said it had gained "valuable new insights into the capabilities of this new, cutting-edge technology".[37]

On December 9, 2023, the Air Force conducted the first launch of a full prototype operational AGM-183 over a test range off the coast of Southern California. An official USAF statement read "This test was the first launch of a full prototype operational missile. Previous test events focused on proving the booster performance. Following the ARRW's separation from the aircraft, it reached hypersonic speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, completed its flight path and detonated in the terminal area. Indications show that all objectives were met."[38]

On March 19, 2024, the Air Force conducted another test-launch of an operational AGM-183 near Guam.[39][40]

Cancellation

On March 29, 2023, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Andrew Hunter told the House Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, a committee responsible for providing oversight for military ammunition, acquisition, and aviation programs,[41] that the AGM-183A program would not proceed, although the ARRW program's last two all-up round test flights would proceed in order to collect data to help with future hypersonic programs.[8]

Continued development and possible production

On November 15, 2023, Lockheed Martin announced that the program was at a point where the company and its suppliers were ready for low-rate manufacture following breakthroughs in development.[9]

On February 28, 2024, Andersen Air Force Base released pictures of a live AGM-183A carried by a B-52 bomber as part of a training event.[42]

On March 17, 2024, the USAF conducted its final planned end-to-end test launch of the AGM-183A, successfully launching one out of a B-52 bomber taking off from Andersen Air Force Base.[39][40]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Tirpak, John A. (February 1, 2023). "CBO Estimates $15-18 Million Cost Per ARRW Hypersonic Missile". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on February 2, 2023.
  2. ^ Tirpak, John A. (October 1, 2020). "Buff Up". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress" (PDF). Federation of American Scientists. October 14, 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 28, 2023. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Tirpak, John A. (March 2, 2020). "Roper: The ARRW Hypersonic Missile Better Option for USAF". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2020. The reason we went with ARRW was not that HCSW was bad, but ARRW is smaller; we can carry twice as many on the B-52, and it's possible it could be on the F-15
  5. ^ Newdick, Joseph Trevithick, Thomas (March 1, 2024). "B-52 Armed With Hypersonic Missile Makes Appearance In Guam". The War Zone. Retrieved March 2, 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "AGM-183 ARRW". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on May 12, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  7. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (August 9, 2020). "Check Out This B-52 Stratofortress Carrying Two AGM-183 Hypersonic Test Missiles". The Drive. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Losey, Stephen (March 30, 2023). "US Air Force drops Lockheed hypersonic missile after failed tests". Defense News. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Hypersonics: Rocket Science Meets Critical Capability". Lockheed Martin. November 15, 2023. Archived from the original on January 1, 2024. Retrieved November 17, 2023.
  10. ^ a b Pawlyk, Oriana (June 18, 2019). "In First, Air Force Flies Hypersonic Missile Prototype on B-52 Bomber". military.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2023. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Tirpak, John A. (March 2, 2020). "Roper: The ARRW Hypersonic Missile Better Option for USAF". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on June 8, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  12. ^ Sanger, David E. (February 10, 2020). "Trump Budget Calls for New Nuclear Warheads and 2 Types of Missiles". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 17, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Harper, Jon (March 4, 2020). "Pentagon to Spend Billions Mass-Producing Hypersonic Weapons". National Defense Magazine. Archived from the original on October 5, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Pickrell, Ryan (May 15, 2020). "Trump says the US is building a 'super-duper missile' that is much faster than anything it has now". Business Insider. Archived from the original on January 6, 2024. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Johnson, Marty (May 16, 2020). "Trump touts new 'super-duper' missile that can allegedly travel 17 times faster than current missiles". The Hill. Archived from the original on April 6, 2023. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  16. ^ Choi, David (May 19, 2020). "Trump's boasts about 'super-duper' missiles reflect misunderstanding of what those weapons actually do". Business Insider. Archived from the original on April 6, 2023. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  17. ^ Browne, Ryan (May 16, 2020). "Trump touts new 'super duper' missile but Pentagon won't confirm details". CNN. Archived from the original on April 5, 2023. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  18. ^ "Trump says US developing a 'super duper missile'". Times of Israel. Associated Press. May 16, 2020. Archived from the original on April 5, 2023. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  19. ^ Schifrin, Nick. "For those interested, the aforementioned super duper missile AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic". @nickschifrin. Twitter. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  20. ^ "川普:美國將有「超級飛彈」速度超乎想像". China Times (in Chinese). May 18, 2020. Archived from the original on April 6, 2023. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  21. ^ a b Mizokami, Kyle (April 9, 2020). "The B-1 Bomber Might Start Slinging Hypersonic Missiles". Popular Mechanics. Archived from the original on March 31, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  22. ^ Gertz, Bill (March 3, 2021). "Air Force to test hypersonic missile". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on April 5, 2023.
  23. ^ Hitchens, Theresa (June 3, 2021). "B-21 Speeds To IOC; ARRW Test Slated For Next Month: Ray". Breaking Defense. Archived from the original on November 13, 2023.
  24. ^ Dutton, Jack (May 13, 2021). "Air Force Bomber Completes Hypersonic Missile Test Amid China, Russia Arms Race". Newsweek. Archived from the original on April 5, 2023.
  25. ^ D'Urso, Stefano (August 4, 2021). "First Flight Test Of Hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW (Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon) Fails, Again". The Aviationist. Archived from the original on June 7, 2023.
  26. ^ Insinna, Valerie (August 4, 2021). "After latest flight test failure, US Air Force hopes to keep first hypersonic missile on track for production". Defense News. Archived from the original on August 5, 2021.
  27. ^ Insinna, Valerie (December 20, 2021). "Air Force hypersonic weapon runs into trouble after a third failed test". Breaking Defense. Archived from the original on August 22, 2023.
  28. ^ Insinna, Valerie (March 9, 2022). "Air Force can't buy its first hypersonic ARRW as planned, following budget cut". Breaking Defense. Archived from the original on April 18, 2023.
  29. ^ "Air Force conducts successful hypersonic weapon test". United States Air Force. May 16, 2022. Archived from the original on September 7, 2023. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  30. ^ Stone, Mike (July 13, 2022). "U.S. successfully tests pair of Lockheed hypersonic missiles". Reuters. Archived from the original on July 13, 2022. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  31. ^ "Air Force completes another successful hypersonic test". Air Force. July 13, 2022. Archived from the original on October 1, 2023. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  32. ^ Cole, Ilka (December 12, 2022). "Air Force conducts first ARRW operational prototype missile test". Eglin Air Force Base. Archived from the original on December 23, 2023.
  33. ^ Insinna, Valerie (December 12, 2022). "Air Force successfully tests first fully-operational air-launched hypersonic missile". Breaking Defense. Archived from the original on May 3, 2023.
  34. ^ Losey, Stephen (December 12, 2022). "Air Force conducts first launch of prototype hypersonic missile". Defense News. Archived from the original on January 6, 2024.
  35. ^ Losey, Stephen (March 24, 2023). "US Air Force conducts hypersonic test, but full results are unclear". Defense News. Archived from the original on January 6, 2024.
  36. ^ Losey, Stephen (August 21, 2023). "US Air Force fires hypersonic ARRW in first test since March failure". C4ISRNet. Archived from the original on October 11, 2023.
  37. ^ Tirpak, John (October 17, 2023). "Air Force Says ARRW Test Provides 'New Insights,' But Offers Few Specifics". Air & Space Forces Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2023. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  38. ^ Tingley, Brett (December 12, 2023). "US Air Force launches 1st operational hypersonic missile". Space.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  39. ^ a b Trevithick, Joseph (March 19, 2024). "Unprecedented U.S. Hypersonic Weapons Test From Guam Has Occurred". The War Zone. Retrieved March 20, 2024.
  40. ^ a b Stone, Mike (March 19, 2024). "US Air Force says it conducted successful hypersonic weapon test". Reuters. Retrieved March 19, 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  41. ^ "Tactical Air and Land Forces (117th Congress)". House Armed Services Committee. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  42. ^ Trevithick, Joseph; Newdick, Thomas (March 1, 2024). "B-52 Armed With Hypersonic Missile Makes Appearance In Guam". The War Zone. Retrieved March 3, 2024.