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US Air Force conducts test-launch of AGM-183A hypersonic weapon from B-52 bomber

According to information published by the United States Air Force on August 8, 2020, the U.S. Air Force took another step towards fielding a hypersonic weapon following its final captive-carry test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon under a wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft off the Southern California coast, August 8, 2020.

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US Air Force conducts test launch of AGM 183A hypersonic weapon from B 52 bomber 925 001 A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron is undergone pre-flight procedures at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 8. The aircraft conducted a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the Southern California coast. (U.S. Air Force photo by Giancarlo Casem)

The flight resulted in the successful transmission of telemetry and GPS data from the AGM-183A IMV-2 (Instrumented Measurement Vehicle) to Point Mugu Sea Range ground stations. The test verified system integration with the B-52 launch platform and telemetry while practicing concepts of operations that will be utilized during its first Booster Test Flight later this year.

The ARRW program is a rapid prototyping project aimed at delivering a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the Warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide combatant commanders the capability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets.

ARRW will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.

This test of the AGM-183A IMV-2 was the culmination of efforts from across the Air Force Test Center enterprise, the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at Point Mugu, the ARRW Program Office and Lockheed Martin.

The AGM-183 is a prototype hypersonic weapon planned for use by the United States Air Force. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the missile has a reported maximum speed of Mach 20. The weapon uses a boost-glide system, in which it is propelled to hypersonic speed by a rocket on which it is mounted before gliding towards a target.

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters). It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.