The first flight test of the U.S. Air Force air-launch hypersonic booster did not go as planned

Washington — First Rocket Booster Test US Air Force Hypersonic AGM-183A Air Launch High Speed ​​Response Weapon It failed because the vehicle did not start during the flight on April 5th.

During testing in the Point Mugu area off California, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber attempted to launch an ARRW booster vehicle. However, “the test missile was unable to complete the launch sequence,” the bomber returned with a test vehicle to Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Air Force said in a statement.

The service plans to investigate the missile, make changes, and attempt to launch it in future tests to understand why the missile was not launched, the service said.

“The ARRW program has taken the calculated risks to push the boundaries and move this important feature forward since its inception,” said Brig. General Heath Collins, Program Executive Officer of the Air Force’s Board of Ordnance. “It’s a shame we didn’t launch, but recent tests have provided valuable information to learn and move on. That’s why we test.”

In addition to demonstrating that the ARRW booster will be safely separated from the B-52 during testing on April 5, the Air Force will evaluate the missile’s performance at operational speed through the ignition and boost phases and from the glide vehicle. booster.

This test was conducted by Edwards Air Force Base’s 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force.

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The ARRW test missile was delivered to the base on March 1, service said in a March 5 release, and the first booster test flight was scheduled to continue on a B-52 bomber “in the next 30 days.” ..

“The BTF-1 test vehicle is complete and we are conducting ground tests to see if it is ready for flight. The team has successfully addressed the COVID challenges and is not uncommon in the first weapons system. According to a news release, Collins focused the laser on the rigor of engineering while minimizing schedule delays. “

The service will carry out additional boosters and all-up round test flights throughout 2021. The ARRW program has previously conducted seven captive carriage flight tests. In this test, the weapon is carried by the aircraft, but not released. Weapons affect the flight profile of an aircraft.

The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin Contracts worth up to $ 480 million 2018 ARRW development activities including important design reviews, testing and production preparation support.

In 2021, Congress allocated $ 386 million to the Air Force for hypersonic prototyping. This exceeds the service budget request by $ 5 million. But the money came at a cost. Last year, the Air Force announced that it would cancel another hypersonic weapons program. Hypersonic conventional strike weapon This was also created by Lockheed. This is because budget constraints have forced the service to downselect into a single task.

The HCSW program was promising, but a service spokeswoman at the time said the ARRW had a more “unique glide body design” when compared to the HCSW and other hypersonic weapons being developed by the Navy and Army. I will.

Both ARRW and HCSW are boost glide hypersonic weapons that fly just below space, but the service is Hypersonic cruise missile It will be able to take a flight path with a lower trajectory.