ARRW: How US-built hypersonic missile will change warfare dynamics

Written By: Rustam Roy

According to reports, the US Air Force(USAF) is set to launch AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon(ARRW) in the next 30 days

ARRW

According to reports, the US Air Force(USAF) is set to launch AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon(ARRW) in the next 30 days after pushing back the date earlier this month.

The USAF had earlier announced in late February that it would be going ahead with the missile test launch.

“There’s real hardware coming. We’re also getting ready to transition into production within about a year on that programme,” Brigadier General Heath Collins, programme executive officer for weapons and director of the USAF’s armament directorate had said.

The ARRWs can be put on bombers making it a lethal force in the USAF's arsenal.

(Photograph:AFP)

ARRW travels at Mach 6.5 and Mach 8

The AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid-Response Weapon hypersonic missile has the capability to fly at an average speed of between 5,000 and 6,000 miles per hour at Mach 6.5 and Mach 8 level.

Lockheed Martin had first received the contract worth $480 million to develop the long-range hypersonic missile AGM-183A for the US Air Force in 2018 with the first test flight for the weapon taking place aboard a B-52 Stratofortress bomber in 2019 and then in August last year.

Reports say the missile is set to achieve early operational capability (EOC) in September 2022.

(Photograph:AFP)

USAF’s hypersonic programme

The ARRW is being developed under USAF’s Hypersonics Prototyping Programme Element. Lockheed Martin has received $988.8 million contract to modify the ARRW critical design review, test and production readiness support.

The AGM-183A ARRW uses hypersonic boost-glide system allowing rocket to propels its payload to high speeds.

The missile had earlier transmitted telemetry and GPS data from its Instrumented Measurement Vehicle (IMV)-2 during a test.

(Photograph:AFP)

ARRW's critical design

The ARRW is being developed under USAF’s Hypersonics Prototyping Programme Element. Lockheed Martin has received $988.8 million contract to modify the ARRW critical design review, test and production readiness support.

The AGM-183A ARRW uses hypersonic boost-glide system allowing rocket to propels its payload to high speeds.

The missile had earlier transmitted telemetry and GPS data from its Instrumented Measurement Vehicle (IMV)-2 during a test.

(Photograph:AFP)

Thermal, mechanical and digital data

The captive carry flight was conducted with tactical hardware and fully instrumented to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data from the flight vehicle, according to Lockheed Martin.

It was the first time a tactical ARRW missile was assembled.

“This captive carry mission is the pre-cursor for our first booster test flight planned for early 2020s.” Dave Berganini had said.

 

(Photograph:AFP)

US B-52 bombers

Hypersonic weapons and air and missile defense are key priorities of the United States Department of Defense's National Defense Strategy

The Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program matures critical technologies to high speed flight and accelerates the weaponization of Hypersonic strike capabilities, according to Lockheed Martin.

The hypersonic systems provide advantages in terms of speed to target, manoeuvrability and survivability to reach hard and well-defended targets.

At hypersonic speeds, friction and air resistance create an incredible amount of heat, which needs to be managed through tough but lightweight heat shields and thermal protection systems. Sensors and electronics must also be hardened to withstand extreme conditions, the company highlighted.

(Photograph:AFP)

Hypersonic systems built for the kill

Hypersonic systems are designed to operate in contested environments and must be capable of overcoming a wide range of defenses with the system moving at a mile every second needs to operate with an incredible degree of precise maneuverability.

Basic operations like communications become a significant challenge during hypersonic flight. The system has to maintain connectivity to operators and decisionmakers through a global communications and sensor systems.

The missile was built with tactical hardware and instrumented to collect thermal, mechanical and digital data from the flight vehicle through a telemetry stream and an on-board data recorder.

(Photograph:AFP)

North Korean ICBMs on display

The latest US missile innovation comes amid Iran tensions and reports that North had completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine and  offered a shopping list including hypersonic gliding warheads, military reconnaissance satellites and solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Pyongyang's weapons programmes have made rapid progress under Kim, and at a parade in October it showed off a huge new ICBM that analysts said was the largest road-mobile, liquid-fuelled missile in the world.

The change of leadership in Washington presents a challenge for North Korea. Biden is associated with the Obama administration's "strategic patience" approach and characterised Kim as a "thug" during the presidential debates.

(Photograph:AFP)

North Korea

North Korea develops nuclear devices

(Photograph:Reuters)

Kim Jong Un's ambition

Kim Jong Un had pledged to strengthen his country's nuclear arsenal days before Joe Biden took office as US president.

The administration of President Joe Biden says its review of North Korea policy will be finished in coming months, before announcing its plans for handling a rolling crisis that has bedevilled generations of US presidents.

The Pentagon had earlier expressed concern  about a UN report indicating possible reprocessing of nuclear fuel for bombs by North Korea, and said such activity could raise tensions with Pyongyang.

The administration of President Joe Biden, which took office in January, is conducting a full review of North Korea policy following former President Donald Trump's unprecedented engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which failed to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

(Photograph:Reuters)

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