US Air Force conducts new captive-carry test of hypersonic missile on B-52H bomber aircraft

According to information released by the American Company Lockheed Martin, an Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic weapon also called AGM-183 instrumented measurement vehicle (IMV) was flown captive-carry on a U.S. Air Force B-52H out of Edwards AFB, California. 

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US Air Force conducts new captive carry test of hypersonic missile on B 52H bomber aircraft 925 001 A B-52 from the 419th Flight Test Squadron out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., carries a prototype of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, for its first captive carry flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Okula)

These successful tests follow August’s instrumented measurement vehicle test and will obtain additional environmental data on the missile and its subsystems in response to those extreme conditions. 

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. 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.  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.

In August 2020, the U.S. Air Force had taken 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 off the Southern California coast.

The missile was built with tactical hardware and instrumented to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data from the flight vehicle through a telemetry stream and an on-board data recorder.

The benefits of a hypersonic weapon include rapid response, time critical capability that will overcome distance in contested environments using high speed and altitude. An operational hypersonic air-launched weapon enables the U.S. to hold high value, time-sensitive targets at risk in contested environments from stand-off distances.