Friday, January 27, 2023

US Air Force makes progress on first hypersonic weapon amid challenges

The U.S. Air Force has reported that Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) takes the next steps in making Air Force’s first hypersonic weapon.

The Air Force said in a release that Barksdale AFB personnel have successfully taken the first steps toward implementing the Air Force’s first air-launched hypersonic weapon. The Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, is scheduled to be operational as early as fall 2023.

Recently, Airmen from the 2nd Maintenance Group, 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and civilians from the ARRW and B-52H Stratofortress Systems Programs Office validated loading procedures for what will be the B-52’s newest weapon.

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By trial and error, Airmen and civilians developed the standard methods for attaching the weapon to the aircraft and unloading it.

The ARRW travels five times the speed of sound, giving combatant commanders the ability to hit time sensitive targets with ease.

“It demonstrates the far-reaching capabilities of the B-52 and now it projects its combat capabilities even further with the ARRW system,” said Master Sgt. Caleb Nolen, Air Force Global Strike B-52 armament systems manager.

The process of making this hypersonic weapon was expedited because of the National Defense Authentication Act section 804 Rapid Prototyping, Rapid Fielding program, which allows swift weapon development in certain cases.

“The FY16 [fiscal year 2016] NDAA implemented section 804 as a means for programs to quickly prototype weapons within five years, and then a determination will be made if in fact the program was successful enough to move to Rapid Production phase,” said Bret Berryhill, ARRW logistics chief.

ARRW is scheduled to begin live-fire testing near the end of this year and will be considered for rapid production.

The ARRW is the Air Force’s first air-launched hypersonic weapon that gives combatant commanders the ability to hit time-sensitive targets faster than they were ever able to before. With the validation of loading and unloading procedures the weapon can start live-fire testing and then production. The weapon is scheduled to be operational in fall 2023.

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About this Author

Colton Jones
Colton Jones is technology editor for Defenсe Blog. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere.

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