U.S. Air Force Not to Buy Lockheed's hypersonic Missile after Failed Tests

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 03:04 PM, March 31, 2023
  • 759
U.S. Air Force Not to Buy Lockheed's hypersonic Missile after Failed Tests
AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon illustration @Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Air Force has decided to not to buy the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) after the prototyping phase ends, after a troubled set of tests.

The ARRW was supposed to be the U.S. military's first hypersonic weapon to reach operational status. A successful test happened in December, with a peak velocity five times the speed of sound, following several failed efforts.

U.S.A.F. secretary Frank Kendall said in recent hearing that a test in March had failed, following which acquisition lead Andrew Hunter told lawmakers on March 29, that the service won’t be buying the ARRW. The Air Force will still finish the program’s last two all-up round test flights to collect data to help with future hypersonic programs.

“While the Air Force does not currently intend to pursue follow-on procurement of ARRW once the prototyping program concludes, there is inherent benefit to completing the all-up round test flights to garner the learning and test data that will help inform future hypersonic programs," Hunter wrote in his testimony, Defense News said.

Kendall told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Tuesday that the March 13 ARRW test was “not a success” and that the program has “struggled a little bit in its testing process.”

Kendall said Tuesday that the Air Force still wants to carry out two more ARRW tests with its remaining prototypes. But he told lawmakers that the service is more committed to its other major hypersonic weapon program, the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile.

In March 2022, after Congress passed a fiscal 2022 spending bill that struck plans to buy ARRW missiles that year and instead funded more research and development, Kendall said “ARRW still has to prove itself.”

While the military did not say when it tested the weapon exactly, the Pentagon scrubbed a test launch of an undisclosed missile out of Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station earlier this month.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) informed Florida Today that, "as a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur."

"On March 5, the Department of Defense planned to conduct a flight test from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to inform the department's hypersonic technology development," the OSD said. "As a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur. Delivering hypersonic weapons remains a top priority for the Department of Defense."

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