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 (cancelled)
Production history
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Unit cost$15-$18 million[1]

1000 mi (1600 km)[2][3]
Maximum speed Mach 7-8 (planned)[3]

The AGM-183 ARRW ("Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon") was a hypersonic air-to-ground 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[5] by a rocket motor before gliding toward its target.[6][7] The program was cancelled in March 2023 after multiple failed tests.[8]


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.[9] 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.[9]

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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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.[13][14] 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.[15][16][17] PBS news correspondent Nick Schifrin has theorized that the "Super-Duper Missile" is the AGM-183A, as has the China Times.[18][19]

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).[20]

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.[10] 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.[20]


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;[21] this was the eighth test for ARRW.[22]

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.[23]

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 rocket motor failed to ignite.[24][25] On December 15, 2021, the third flight test failed to launch as well.[26] 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.[27]

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).[28]

The USAF conducted another successful test of the missile on July 12, 2022.[29][30]

The USAF completed the first All-Up-Round (AUR) test on December 9, 2022.[31] This test included both the booster and hypersonic glide vehicle.[32] The USAF 412th Test Wing used a B-52H Stratofortress, at Edwards Air Force Base.[33]

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.[34] 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.[35]


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,[36] 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]

See also


  1. ^ a b CBO Estimates $15-18 Million Cost Per ARRW Hypersonic Missile. Air & Space Forces Magazine. 1 February 2023.
  2. ^ "Buff Up". Air force magazine.
  3. ^ a b "Report to the Congress on Hypersonic Weapons" (PDF). October 14, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Tirpak, John A. (March 2, 2020). "Roper: The ARRW Hypersonic Missile Better Option for USAF". Air Force Magazine. 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. ^ "AGM-183 ARRW". Air force magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  6. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "Check Out This B-52 Stratofortress Carrying Two AGM-183 Hypersonic Test Missiles". The Drive. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  7. ^ "Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c US Air Force drops Lockheed hypersonic missile after failed tests, Stephen Losey, DefenseNews, 2023-03-31
  9. ^ a b Pawlyk, Oriana (June 18, 2019). "In First, Air Force Flies Hypersonic Missile Prototype on B-52 Bomber". Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Tirpak, John (March 2, 2020). "Roper: The ARRW Hypersonic Missile Better Option for USAF". Air Force Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  11. ^ Sanger, David E. (February 10, 2020). "Trump Budget Calls for New Nuclear Warheads and 2 Types of Missiles". New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  12. ^ Harper, Jon (March 4, 2020). "Just In: Pentagon to Spend Billions Mass-Producing Hypersonic Weapons". National Defense Magazine. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  13. ^ 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. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  14. ^ Johnson, Marty (May 16, 2020). "Trump touts new 'super-duper' missile that can allegedly travel 17 times faster than current missiles". The Hill. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Choi, David (May 19, 2020). "Trump's boasts about 'super-duper' missiles reflect misunderstanding of what those weapons actually do". Business Insider. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Browne, Ryan (May 16, 2020). "Trump touts new 'super duper' missile but Pentagon won't confirm details". CNN. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  17. ^ "Trump says US developing a 'super duper missile'". Times of Israel. Associated Press. May 16, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  18. ^ Schifrin, Nick. "For those interested, the aforementioned super duper missile AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic". @nickschifrin. Twitter. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  19. ^ "川普:美國將有「超級飛彈」速度超乎想像". China Times (in Chinese). May 18, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Mizokami, Kyle (April 9, 2020). "The B-1 Bomber Might Start Slinging Hypersonic Missiles". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  21. ^ Bill Gertz (3 Mar 2021) Air Force to test hypersonic missile
  22. ^ Theresa Hitchens (3 Jun 2021) B-21 Speeds To IOC; ARRW Test Slated For Next Month: Ray
  23. ^ Jack Dutton (13 May 2021) Air Force Bomber Completes Hypersonic Missile Test
  24. ^ Stefano D'Urso (28 July 2021) First Flight Test Of Hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW (Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon) Fails, Again.
  25. ^ Valerie Insinna (4 Aug 2021) After latest flight test failure, US Air Force hopes to keep first hypersonic missile on track for production
  26. ^ Valerie Insinna (20 Dec 2021) Air Force hypersonic weapon runs into trouble after a third failed test
  27. ^ Valerie Insinna (9 Mar 2022) Air Force can’t buy its first hypersonic ARRW as planned, following budget cut
  28. ^ "Air Force conducts successful hypersonic weapon test". United States Air Force. May 16, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  29. ^ Stone, Mike (July 13, 2022). "U.S. successfully tests pair of Lockheed hypersonic missiles". Reuters. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  30. ^ "Air Force completes another successful hypersonic test". Air Force. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  31. ^ Ilka Cole (12 Dec 2022) Air Force conducts first ARRW operational prototype missile test
  32. ^ Valerie Insinna (9 Dec 2022) Air Force successfully tests first fully-operational air-launched hypersonic missile AGM-183A ARRW's 1st all-up round was successfully tested, reaching Mach 5 and detonating in its terminal area after 3 consecutive test failures (Apr, Jul, and Dec 2021), and 2 successful tests of the booster in May, and July 2022.
  33. ^ Air Force conducts first launch of prototype hypersonic missile, Stephen Losey,, 2022-12-13
  34. ^ "US Air Force conducts hypersonic test, but full results are unclear". Defense News. March 24, 2023.
  35. ^ Losey, Stephen (August 21, 2023). "US Air Force fires hypersonic ARRW in first test since March failure". C4ISRNet.
  36. ^ "Tactical Air and Land Forces (117th Congress)". House Armed Services Committee. Retrieved April 1, 2023.