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U.S. Successfully Tests Lockheed Hypersonic Missiles


Military personnel secure the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 as it is loaded under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress in California in 2020. | Image by U.S. Air Force

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In response to mounting worries that China and Russia have had more success creating hypersonic weapons, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday that the United States recently conducted the second consecutive successful hypersonic missile test with Lockheed Martin Corp.

According to the U.S. Air Force, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster was successfully tested on Tuesday off the coast of California. The ARRW test, which took place earlier on Wednesday and involved lifting the rocket under a B-52H’s wing before launching it, was covered by Reuters. The weapon did not separate from the plane during earlier tests.

The weapon “reached hypersonic speeds” and “primary and secondary objectives were met” in the test, Brigadier General Heath Collins, the Armament Directorate’s program executive officer, said in a statement Wednesday. “We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year.”

The booster and the warhead are included in the “all-up-round.” The Air Force tested the weapons at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it successfully carried out the first test of its Operational Fires hypersonic weapon in a separate hypersonic weapon test.

Lockheed said, “This second successful test demonstrates ARRW’s ability to reach and withstand operational hypersonic speeds, collect crucial data for use in further flight tests, and validate safe separation from the aircraft.”

Hypersonic weapons go through the upper atmosphere at around 3,853 mph, or more than five times the speed of sound.

The successful tests signal advancement in several U.S. attempts to produce hypersonic weapons, which have occasionally been hampered by test failures, financial concerns, and rising worries that the country is losing ground in an arms race between superpowers.

A ground-launched device called Operational Fires is designed to “rapidly and precisely strike important, time-sensitive targets while breaching current adversary air defenses.”

The use of an existing High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher, similar to those used in Ukraine, is one of Lockheed Martin’s proposals for the DARPA weapon.

The Common Hypersonic Glide Body, a novel kind of hypersonic missile, was tested unsuccessfully on June 29 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

As the world’s attention switched to the new arms race for an emerging type of weapon, arms producers such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation all pushed their hypersonic weapons programs to investors.     

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