US Air Launched Mach 7 Hypersonic Rapid Response Missile In Development
UNITED STATES - The US Air Force is currently developing the AGM-183A, or hypersonic Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon capable of going mach 7 speeds which is seven times the speed of sound, or over 5,370 miles per hour.
With U.S. carriers now at risk from hypersonic missile attacks from Russia, and China currently developing the technology with the help of Russia, the United States has been working on an air launched hypersonic missile that can be equipped to bombers and jets.
The Defense Department has stated that the AGM-183A or ARRW (pronounced arrow), will be the very first hypersonic offensive weapon to be moved from development to procurement.
Over the next year or so numerous flight tests will be carried out on the ARRW with a planned fielding in 2022 according to the Undersecretary Of Defense for Research and Engineering, or USD (R&E)
The USD (R&E) stated that the budget proposal for 2022 that came out in late May supports an "accelerated buying strategy". Mark White from the organization said, "All we need is our industry partner Lockheed Martin to deliver the capability, and then we’ll buy it".
Air launched missiles were chosen as they are more easily equipped to jet fighters than other missile types. "They allow us to bring in the fourth-gen fighters into the fight on day one" Mark stated, referring to the F-16 and F-15EX fighter jets.
Due to the growing risk of a hypersonic missile attack on our aircraft carriers the Defense Department is putting the development of hypersonic weapons such as the ARRW in high priority, including land and sea launched missile systems.
Funding in the 2022 budget also exists for development of hypersonic cruise missiles, as well as the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Increment 2, or OASuW Inc 2.
White's reports mention that Russia and China are currently overtaking the United States in the development of hypersonic weapons. "As you understand that landscape, you really understand how real this is and how important it is — a national imperative in my mind — that we move forward and deliver to our warfighters this capability", he said.
Both the US Navy and US Air Force are working together in the integration of the hypersonic missiles onto other aircraft, such as bombers. Test flights with the ARRW boost-glide missile have already been carried out with B-52s bombers.
White said, "We’re looking at: how do we deliver air-launched cruise missiles to get effects in numbers in the battlefield to go after high-end integrated missile defense systems? How do we deliver a long-range hypersonic weapon … capability to have multi-domain options to do deep strike against targets of critical and strategic importance on the battlefield?".
Another endeavor the Navy has is to incorporate the boost-glide system with the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer, as well as the Virginia class fast attack submarines within the next 8 to 14 years.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also developing a Tactical Boost Glide vehicle which the ARRW system will be incorporated into.
White stated, "The ARRW program is pressing ahead. We’ve got confidence that the glide body will work, and so we will first fly the TBG program, then quickly thereafter integrate with the ARRW program and demonstrate that the weapon system is viable".
"Probably the biggest challenge we have is the supply chain and making sure that we instill quality into the systems engineering, the rigor into our weapon system build-ups and make sure that the subsystems that we integrate are ready to go when we integrate them".