The US Air Force is believed to be preparing to test a hypersonic missile for the first time at Naval Air Station Point Mugu outside Los Angeles.
The debut flight of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (or ARRW), expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, is being hailed as a major step forward as the Pentagon looks to maintain its technological lead over opponents China and Russia.
The mission is carried out by a B-52H bomber that carries the AGM-183A missile high into the air and launches it at more than five times the speed of sound.
A no-fly zone has been established near the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, southwest of Los Angeles, for Tuesday and Wednesday, where sensitive missile tests are often conducted.
The ARRW will be used to destroy “high value, time-sensitive targets,” said Mike White, the Pentagon’s chief hypersonic director. Airforce Magazine
This B52 aircraft performed a captive-carry flight test of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon in August (photo file)
Lockheed Martin released this photo of the AGM-183A air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), showing a hypersonic sliding warhead that he had to build for the United States Air Force (photo file)
Staff Sgt. Jacob Puente, of the 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, identifies the ARRW as it is being loaded under the wing of a B-52 (photo in file)
US Air Force to Lockheed Martin: Give us supersonic
The United States Air Force crew attached the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response weapon to the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base, California in August.
In 2018, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $ 480 million contract to develop a hypersonic missile that could be launched from the air.
Hypersonic is measured as five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.
Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) reach that speed when they re-enter the atmosphere from space.
But because they travel on a predictable path, they miss the element of surprise.
In June 2019, the Air Force conducted a captive-carry flight test – where the cargo is not separated from the aircraft carrier – on board a B52.
When the Pentagon’s budget for hypersonic missiles was increased by 23 percent in February 2020, the Air Force moved on to acquire the AGM-183A.
The ARRW has a reported speed of 15,345 miles per hour, meaning it can travel around the Earth’s circumference in one hour and 37 minutes.
The US Air Force Magazine describes the ARRW as a “boost-glide-type hypersonic missile.”
“The booster accelerates the payload to hypersonic speed, at which point the clamshell front opens and releases the hypersonic glide vehicle, which flies the rest of the way to the target without further propulsion, maneuvering along the way.”
In 2019, the United States spent $ 732 billion on national defense, more than the following 10 countries combined.
Speculation has been mounting since the Air Force Armaments Directorate announced on March 5 that a test would take place within 30 days.
There were further signs that a test was imminent following the arrival of the US military missile range instrumentation vessel USAV Worthy at the San Diego naval base, The ride reported.
Planespotters also noted that a NASA aircraft used to track missile data, the WB-57F, had also landed at Naval Air Station Point Mugu.
Airpsace restrictions were imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on an area of the Pacific Ocean near the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, southwest of Los Angeles, for March 30 and April 1, The Drive said.
The California test site area has multiple naval and air bases where missile tests are often conducted.
The latest US military technology breakthrough journeys can reportedly travel up to 20 times the speed of sound, and the advanced maneuverability on board will make it nearly impossible to shoot, military experts say.
Speak with Air Force Magazine In February, White, the Pentagon’s top hypersonic developer, said the new ARRW is meant to survive when fired at “heavily defended targets.”
He said the ARRW is a “ rapid prototyping project that will use the very latest technologies to deliver conventional hypersonic weapon capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. ”
The ARRW will be the first hypersonic weapon in the US military arsenal.
According to Live Science, the ARRW is believed to move through the atmosphere at about 20 times the speed of sound.
It is designed to be so fast that missile defense systems make it impossible to shoot it down.
Compared to the cruise missiles, which have a top speed of about 800 km per hour, the ARRW is almost eight times faster.
According to Science MagazineRussia, China and the United States are in a race to build hypersonic weapons for decades to come.
“It’s kind of like a race to the moon,” said Iain Boyd, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado. Science Magazine
“National pride is at stake.”
According to state media, China is testing its own hypersonic cruise missile Xingkong-2 ‘Waverider’.
Following a trial in 2018, the Communist Party’s Global Times said the Waverider would enable the new weapon to “ break through any anti-missile defense system of the current generation. ”
Meanwhile, Russia has also been busy testing its new surface-to-air hypersonic missile.
The Kremlin’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate has conducted at least four test launches of the new 6,100 mph Zircon missile, which is expected to enter service next year and which defense chiefs bragged “ hit the bull’s eye ” during testing.
In March, a British spy boat discovered evidence of further testing in the Arctic.
The first Zircon test launch of the missile from the Gorshkov took place in early October and was seen as a 68th birthday present for Putin.
More test launches followed in November and December.
Vladimir Putin is said to see the Mach 8 Zircon as his preferred missile to hit American cities in the event of a nuclear conflict.
Tensions between Russia and the US flared after US President Joe Biden called Putin a “murderer” during an interview with ABC News.
In response, Russia withdrew its ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, and demanded an apology.
Putin refuted the accusation of the US president’s “ murderer ” by saying that “ it takes one to know one. ”
“We always see our own qualities in another and think that he is the same as us,” said Putin.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said that Biden does not regret his comment.
Asked if Biden regrets calling Putin a ‘murderer’, she replied, ‘No, the president has given a direct answer to a direct question’
Diplomatic relations with China were also difficult.
The top diplomats of the two countries exchanged angry words during the first high-level talks in Alaska in March.
The two types of hypersonic weapons:
Hypersonic sliding vehicles
A hypersonic glider is propelled up on a rocket to a height of between 25 miles to 100 miles above the Earth before breaking free to glide along the upper atmosphere towards its target.
It is released at a height and speed that allows it to slide toward the target without force.
Control surfaces of the sliding vehicle allow it to steer an unpredictable course and maneuver sharply as it approaches a collision.
These slide vehicles follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arcuate path of a ballistic missile.
Hypersonic cruise missiles
These missiles are propelled by fast, air-breathing engines after finding their target.
Although they have internal engines, unlike regular cruise missiles, they travel much faster and higher.