Lockheed Martin has released a new official rendering of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) showing the hypersonic glide warhead.
The AGM-183A ARRW is a hypersonic strike weapon being developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The weapon is a boost-glide hypersonic system and consists of a rocket booster and hypersonic glider warhead. After being launched from an aircraft, the booster rocket accelerates to high speeds before releasing the hypersonic glide warhead payload which then glides unpowered to its target at hypersonic speeds up to Mach 20.
The AGM-183A missile is expected to be deployed on Air Force’s strategic bombers. The testing is being conducted on the B-52 Stratofortress bomber.
In August 2018, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control was awarded a $480 million contract by the U.S. Air Force to begin designing the ARRW weapon. This contract is to provide the critical design review (CDR), test and production readiness support for the weapon and is expected to be completed by 2021.
The first captive flight test of the ARRW hypersonic missile was successfully conducted by the U.S. Air Force on a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber aircraft on June 12 last at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
A contract modification, worth around $988.8 million, was also awarded to support the effort in December 2019 with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2022. The AGM-183A ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022.
The ARRW effort is the only hypersonic weapon prototyping effort being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonic research and development. A second effort, called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) for which a $928 million contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in April 2018, was canceled by the Air Force.
The Air Force was forced to choose between funding HCSW and ARRW because of budget pressures and opted to keep ARRW due to it being a more “unique glide body design” compared with HCSW, which was similar to hypersonic weapons under development by other services, according to the Defense News report citing Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.