Second Attempt to Test the Air Force’s First Hypersonic Weapon Fails

The Russians have had one for years...without a trillion-dollar defense/pork sector

Editor’s note: Having gone for the much more complicated (and much more lucrative) hypersonic boost-glide vehicle — instead of a more straightforward air-launched ballistic missile — means the US, unlike Russia with its Kinzhal, still doesn’t have an air-launched hypersonic weapon.

That said, Russia is also ahead in hypersonic boost-glide weapons, and is already fielding a handful of ground-launched Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles operationally.

A second attempt to carry out a flight test of a prototype of the U.S. Air Force’s AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile, or ARRW, has failed. The weapon separated safely from the B-52H bomber carrying it, but the rocket motor did not ignite. This follows the first unsuccessful attempted flight test in April, in which the missile did not even leave the wing of the B-52H it was attached to.

The Air Force announced the outcome of the test, which occurred on July 28 over the Point Mugu Sea Range in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California, today. The service had previously announced that it would conduct this flight test event before the end of July. The 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force participated in this new attempted launch.

“The missile cleanly separated from the aircraft and successfully demonstrated the full release sequence including GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnect and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile,” an Air Force press release said. “The missile also demonstrated fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers which ensures a safe operation for the aircrew. Following the safe separation maneuvers, the rocket motor did not ignite.”

The Air Force insists that this abortive launch still provided valuable test data and “demonstrated several first-time events as the program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s.” Last week the service had confirmed to The War Zone that the overall test plan had been the same as it had been for the initial failed Booster Test Flight 1 test, or BTF-1, in April.

The BTF-1 test had been intended to focus on validating the performance of the missile’s rocket booster and demonstrating the simulated separation of the weapon’s unpowered boost-glide vehicle payload. The prototype missile would carry a frangible surrogate for that vehicle that would disintegrate after release.

The ARRW, as designed, is intended to use its rocket booster to accelerate a wedge-shaped unpowered hypersonic boost-glide vehicle sitting inside the nosecone on top of the missile and loft it to a desired altitude and speed. Once there, the nose cone breaks away and the vehicle is released, after which it glides along atmospheric flight trajectory at hypersonic velocity toward its target. Hypersonic speeds are defined as anything above Mach 5.

The boost-glide vehicle is designed to be highly maneuverable, which, combined with its speed and flight profile, make it ideal for penetrating through dense enemy air defenses to strike at time-sensitive and other high-value targets. Those performance attributes give opponents less time, overall, to react to the incoming threat, making it extremely difficult for them to relocate assets or otherwise seek shelter.

So far flying only in artists’ conceptions

It’s also interesting to note that comments from Mark Lewis, the Executive Director of the National Defense Industry Association’s (NDIA) Emerging Technologies Institute, and John Venable, a Senior Research Fellow for Defense Policy at The Heritage Foundation think tank, earlier today had suggested that the Air Force might have tried to conduct BTV-1b, or a similar test, earlier this month, but had scrubbed it for unspecified reasons. Lewis and Venable had been participating in a virtual Heritage Foundation event regarding hypersonic weapon developments.

All of this also follows Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor working on ARRW for the Air Force, disclosing a $225 million loss on a classified aerospace development project during a call with reporters about the company’s earnings for the second quarter of this year. It is unknown whether or not this is, in any way, related to AGM-183A’s struggles. Lockheed Martin, of course, is involved in a number of publicly acknowledged, but still top-secret aerospace programs and is all but certainly engaged in a number of undisclosed development efforts, as well.

It remains to be seen how this second unsuccessful flight test will impact the Air Force’s plans for ARRW. As noted, the service still says it expects to reach at least some kind of initial operational capability with this weapon in the early 2020s. In the past, it had said that hoped to use un-expended flight test prototypes to field an early operational capability. However, the Air Force is now at least seven months, if not more, behind in its flight test schedule, having originally expected to carry out the first live-fire launch by the end of 2020, and has lost one prototype.

“Developing first-of-its-kind weapons is difficult business and this is why we test,” Air Force Brigadier General Heath Collins, the Air Force’s Program Executive Officer for Weapons, said in a statement regarding the most recent attempted ARRW launch. “This is a critical capability for our Air Force and we have the very best team working to figure out what happened, fix it and move out to deliver ARRW to our warfighters as quickly as possible.”

Hopefully, the Air Force will be able to use what it has learned from this unsuccessful launch to keep moving forward on what is still slated to be its first operational air-launched hypersonic weapon. The service continues to stress that this is a capability that is critical to how it expects to prosecute future high-end conflicts, especially against potential near-peer adversaries, such as China.

We will keep you informed of new details about the failed test if they become available.

Source: The Drive

  1. Jerry Hood says

    The LGBT troops could not launch it….And senile Biden won’t know the difference…

    1. Mr Reynard says

      Favourite number one song of Joe Dementia & Slicky Willy ..

      1. ken says

        Boy, are those days gone and only took 20-30 years.

      2. James says

        When did Bob Barker become a singer?

    2. Felix says

      Keep your homophobia to yourself you cretin.

      1. ken says

        I was going to do a negative but I prefer to be upfront. That negative is not from me.

        Homophobia == Fear of Homosexuals.

        I do not fear homos,,, but I do find them disgusting… mainly due to their actions in front of children. What you do in your bedroom is your business. We and the children sure don’t need to know the details.

        1. Jessy says

          What disgusts me is Christian fathers molesting their children in the millions and pointing at harmless strangers as the criminals.

          The difference between us is I have facts & statists to prove it, you are just a suppressed homosexual who can’t grow up, in a spiral of self hate.

          1. Jasper says

            I like (ONLY!) that you have “STATISTS” (your word, but my emphasis) to prove “it,” whatever “it” is.

            To prove that homosexuality is (NOT???) abhorrent, or (NOT???) destructive, and is a ‘way of life,’ all one must do is enlist the ‘help’ of the STATISTS, and all your problems will disappear, along with the human race.

            I’m (fairly?) sure you meant to say ‘statistics,’ but your statement AGAINST YOUR OWN SELF INTEREST was fitting.

            Thank you, and your stupidity, for the laugh.

            1. Kenton says

              You correctly demote yourself to a spell check, because that is all you are worth.

          2. Raptar Driver says

            You are defending perversion By saying a tiny minority of normal people do wrong things.
            It is not logical you are defending an entire group of degenerate perverts.

            1. Kenton says

              It is more natural than your obesity.

  2. Raptar Driver says

    We’ll have to outsource our military production to china.
    Americans have lost the ability to build things.
    We are just consumers now living in a dream.

  3. Mark says

    I would not be too upset by a couple of failures; it’s perfectly true that developing a completely-new capability is tough and a steep learning curve. I daresay the Russians had a few disappointments during development as well, but had the good sense to keep quiet until they had a functioning and proven concept of operations. The Americans, sadly, can rarely resist bragging from the rooftops how they are going to show everyone something amazing before they even start design work.

    They should get a ‘A’ for advertising, though; nobody dresses up their weapons like the Americans do, with pictures representing global domination and festooned with corporate logos. Everything’s a billboard in America, even the weapons.

  4. ken says

    “Following the safe separation maneuvers, the rocket motor did not ignite.”

    The rocket didn’t ignite! That’s NOT an insignificant failure. What? The matches got wet?

    I was going to blame the American school system where everything except CRT is racist but I remembered these corporations only hire the cheap imports. Too bad the quality isn’t as good as the nazis imported after WWII that got the US into space.

    1. raymond lambert says

      Ahhh. The good old days of operation “Paperclip”, but not even scientist/engineers live forever.

  5. Joe_Below says

    The artist rendition would have the landmass in the illustration as being over one of the poles. Doesn’t look accurate.

  6. yuri says

    Russian state run enterprises that produce weapons and other products are rewarded for success. private incompetent Lockheed, Raytheon, etc are rewarded for failure; each defect and failure allows them to demand more $$$ from US govt to produce ineffective obsolete f35, osprey, abrams tanks, patriot, etc… design flaws always keeps the govt spigot flowing…and the media /politicians ensure that this is necessary to protect the peasants from an invasion by the communists from Canada Cuba or formidable militaries like Madagascar and Luxembourg

    “in amerika the citizen has been transformed into a client, the worker into a consumer”. Christopher Lasch

    1. Jasper says

      The American “war machine” has been transformed by internal sabotage, some of which comes from within the industry itself. That results in being against NATIONAL DEFENSE, but at the same time, being PRO-WAR.

      It’s a part of the same idea that makes it POLICY for the u.S.ofA to ‘export democracy’ and ‘advisors’ around the world, in part to keep the industries ‘afloat’ (on governmental fiat curency, aka useless monetary units), but mainly to expand the Empire’s policies of PERPETUAL WAR.

      There is NO REASON for THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’S military force to be used to protect OTHER countries’ national interests, or THEIR BORDERS.

      Sovereign nations REQUIRE a sovereign military force OF THEIR OWN, not one that must be hired from an internationalist cabal.

    2. Raptar Driver says

      Yurin The Zionist is an expert on Russia?

  7. Felix says

    Running the empire has been very expensive, so they have little money left over for weapons development.

    The Russian tanks, aircraft, ICBMs and missile defence systems the S-400/500 are superior, combine that with China’s capacity to produce and you have a superpower far far greater than the rusty USA.

  8. David says

    Why aren’t the amerikan techies wearing their high heels? Boots are against the code of lgbtq# whatever..

  9. James says

    They only launch a war when their Zionist Banker Master tell them.

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