US military’s much-hyped hypersonic missile test was halted after a ‘problem’ aboard the B52

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Do Not Launch: Abandoned US Air Force’s much-hyped hypersonic missile test with live-fire missiles after B52 bomber ‘failed to complete launch sequence’

  • Long awaited the US Air Force’s first hypersonic AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response weapon
  • But the test was halted after the B52 bomber that was supposed to be fired failed to complete the launch sequence
  • The head of the air force’s armaments program described the failure as a ‘setback’
  • The hypersonic missile can travel at more than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, and is designed to be used to hit heavily defended targets

The highly anticipated first live fire test of the US Air Force’s new hypersonic missile has been halted ahead of launch.

The Air Force said a B-52H bomber to test the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on a flight departing from Edwards Air Force Base in California failed to complete its launch on Monday.

Brigadier General Heath Collins, the program director of the Armaments Directorate, described the missile’s failure as a “setback” to its hypersonic ambitions.

“The test missile failed to complete its launch sequence and was held safely on the plane returning to Edwards AFB,” he said in an emailed statement to the media.

A B-52H aircraft, similar to the above, failed to complete the start-up sequence and stopped first test of an AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response weapon (photo in file)

A B-52H aircraft, similar to the above, failed to complete the start-up sequence and stopped first test of an AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response weapon (photo in 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)

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)

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)

Air crew of the 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron attached the ARRW to the wing of a B-52 in August (photo file)

Air crew of the 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron attached the ARRW to the wing of a B-52 in August (photo file)

Air crew of the 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron attached the ARRW to the wing of a B-52 in August (photo file)

The ARRW program has pushed boundaries from the start and taken calculated risks to advance this important skill.

The United States Air Force’s supersonic program

An ARRW is being loaded under the wing of a B-52 (file photo)

An ARRW is being loaded under the wing of a B-52 (file photo)

An ARRW is being loaded under the wing of a B-52 (file photo)

In 2018, Lockheed Martin was awarded an initial $ 480 million contract to develop a hypersonic missile that could be launched from the air.

By the end of 2020, the company had more than $ 3 billion in hypersonic orders, said Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet, Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet.

The ARRW is part of a wave of ‘new generation weapons’ to complement B-52s over the next few years, making the half-century-old Cold War bombers’ an important part of the Pentagon’s arsenal for years to come. decades. Defense One reported.

The hypersonic speed of the ARRW is measured as slightly greater than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

Currently, only intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) reach that speed when re-entering the atmosphere from space.

But because they travel on a predictable path, they miss the element of surprise.

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 potential top 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.

While the launch was not disappointing, the recent test provided invaluable information to learn from and move forward with. That’s why we test. ‘

The hypersonic missile ARRW is expected to usher in a new era for US military capabilities.

The test launch had been long awaited since the Air Force Armaments Directorate announced on March 5 that a test would take place within 30 days.

Further signs that a test was imminent came when the US Army missile range instrumentation vessel USAV Worthy arrived at the San Diego Naval Base and airspace restrictions were imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration in an area of ​​the Pacific Ocean near the Point Mugu Sea Test Range .

Missile maker Lockheed Martin, who has a multi-billion dollar contract with the Air Force to produce the missiles, declined to comment “ due to the secret nature of the program. ” Defense One reported.

The Air Force says it expects the missile program to be operational ‘early 2020’.

It has previously said that the hypersonic missile will hit targets 1,000 miles away in 10 to 12 minutes, meaning it would travel at an average speed of 5,000 to 6,000 milers per hour, or between Mach 6.5 to Mach 8.

The ARRW will be used to destroy “high value, time-sensitive targets,” said Mike White, the Pentagon’s chief hypersonic director. Airforce Magazine in February.

White 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.

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.

Compared to the cruise missiles, which have a top speed of about 800 km per hour, the ARRW could be as much as 10 times higher.

The US, China, and Russia are all testing hypersonic missile prototypes.

China is testing its own Xingkong-2 ‘Waverider’ hypersonic cruise missile.

Chinese state media 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.

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.

The sliding vehicle controls 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.

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