Military

Successful flight test for first tactical AGM-183A hypersonic missile

Successful flight test for fir...
The AGM-183A was carried under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress
The AGM-183A was carried under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress
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The AGM-183A was carried under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress
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The AGM-183A was carried under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress
Artist's concept of the AGM-183A about to be released from its booster
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Artist's concept of the AGM-183A about to be released from its booster
The AGM-183A being installed on the wing of a B-52
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The AGM-183A being installed on the wing of a B-52
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Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have completed the first flight test of a tactical version of the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). Strapped beneath the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the missile was carried into the skies over Edwards Air Force Base, California, on August 8, 2020, in a captive test where it was not released for free flight.

With their ability to pierce current air defense systems at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (3,709 mph, 5,440 km/h), hypersonic weapons are seen as one of, if not the game changers in 21st-century warfare. However, flying at five times the speed of sound requires overcoming many major technological hurdles through a series of careful steps rather than dramatic breakthroughs.

Capable of flying at speeds of up to Mach 20 (15,345 mph, 24,695 km/h), the AGM-183A is an unmanned glide-body hypersonic missile that is designed to be deployed from an aircraft before being boosted above Mach 5 by a rocket and then gliding to its target. Smaller than other candidate hypersonic weapons, it could be carried in greater numbers by a B-52 or even could be fitted to an F-15 fighter jet.

The AGM-183A being installed on the wing of a B-52
The AGM-183A being installed on the wing of a B-52

The missile previously flew in 2020 and Lockheed says that the one used in the recent test is the first tactical prototype to be assembled, which indicates that the program is moving beyond purely research work and towards an actual functioning weapons system. The purpose of the captive-carry flight was to test new tactical hardware and the vehicle was fully instrumented to gather thermal, mechanical, and digital data. Ground and flight testing is scheduled to continue for another two years.

No announcement was made as to exactly when free-flight tests will begin or when the AGM-183A or its operational successor will enter into service.

"The team overcame significant challenges driven by the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve this significant milestone for the program," says Dave Berganini, ARRW program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "This captive carry mission is the precursor for our first booster test flight planned for early 2020s."

Source: Lockheed Martin

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9 comments
Chris Coles
"hypersonic weapons are seen as one of, if not the game changers in 21st-century warfare."

The other being the deployment of torpedoes launched from a submarine under the surface of the oceans; which travel beyond the speed of sound within water; and are thus completely undetectable from the target.
gbsderm
@Chris Coles:

The speed of sound in seawater is about 340 m/s (almost 770 mph). No torpedoes travels anywhere close to that speed.
Username
"A game changer" Humans need to stop viewing war as a game.
Wise Cracker
I think it was testing an experimental hypersonic torpedo that sunk the Kursk in 2000.
dugnology
The torpedo thing was actually tried by the Soviets. They had a powerful rocket with a probe in front that forced the water in front of it to cavitate, and the torpedo would fly through the cavitation bubble before it collapsed. I would not have reached 'supersonic speeds" but it could reach speeds of 300 knots.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VA-111_Shkval
dugnology
gbsderm. The speed of sound in seawater is 1,480 m/s.
Nelson Hyde Chick
With this thing we can kill our fellow man so much faster, oh boy!
anthony88
"Dragon's Inferno". Was wondering how old the plane is. Couldn't find the build date...but found it uses a "synthetic fuel blend"... Might still be flying on its 100th birthday.
Alex
Российский атомный"Посейдон" плывёт под водой 200 км/ч; ещё советская торпеда "Смерч" - 500 км/ч; новейший гиперзвуковой "Авангард" развил скорость на испытаниях 27M. Как хочется никогда не увидеть всего этого в деле!