ARRW booster vehicle flight test unsuccessful

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Staff Sgt. Jacob Puente, 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, helps line up the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 as it is loaded under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 6, 2020. The ARRW IMV-2 successfully completed a captive carry test off the Southern California coast, Aug. 8, 2020. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)
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The Air Force suffered a setback in demonstrating its progress in hypersonic weapons April 5, 2021, when its first booster vehicle flight test encountered an issue on the aircraft and did not launch.  

A B-52H Stratofortress took off over the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of Southern Califorenia intending to fire the first booster test vehicle for the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon program. Instead, the test missile was not able to complete its launch sequence and was safely retained on the aircraft which returned here.

“The ARRW program has been pushing boundaries since its inception and taking calculated risks to move this important capability forward. While not launching was disappointing, the recent test provided invaluable information to learn from and continue ahead. This is why we test,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Armament Directorate Program Executive Officer. 

Staff Sgt. Jacob Puente, 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, helps line up the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 as it is loaded under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 6, 2020. The ARRW IMV-2 successfully completed a captive carry test off the Southern California coast, Aug. 8, 2020. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

This would have been the eighth flight test for the ARRW program following seven captive carriage missions. Objectives for the test included demonstrating the safe release of the booster test vehicle from the B-52H as well as assessing booster performance, booster-shroud separation, and simulated glider separation. The 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force, both at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., were involved in the testing.  Since the vehicle was retained, engineers and testers will be able to explore the defect and return the vehicle back to test.

The ARRW program aims to deliver a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets. It will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets. 

Developed by Lockheed Martin, the boost glide weapon is propelled to a maximum speed of Mach 20 by a missile before gliding towards its target.
 
 
 

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