For the second time in months, the US Air Force has unsuccessfully tested a prototype hypersonic weapon.
The Air Force's AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, separated from the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber during an air-launch test on July 28 when the rocket motors failed to ignite. This test follows the first unsuccessful flight test in April.
Testing was conducted over Point Mugu Sea Range in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. The Air Force explains what went wrong this time:
The missile cleanly separated from the aircraft and successfully demonstrated the full release sequence, including GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnect and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile. The missile also demonstrated fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers which ensures a safe operation for the aircrew.
Following the safe separation maneuvers, the rocket motor did not ignite. The ARRW team continues to progress through the rapid prototyping effort with a steadfast commitment to the well-being of Airmen and equipment, striking a balance between prudent risk and rapid advancement of the program.
The test failure is a significant blow for the US locked in a hypersonic weapons race against China and Russia. Hypersonic weapons, like the ARRW, can travel at Mach 5, or about 3,836 mph. The missiles are designed to travel at super-fast speeds and penetrate the world's most advanced air defense shields.
The push for hypersonic weapons occurred under the Trump administration where America was reasserting its military dominance across the world.
Here's our recent coverage on the ARRW program:
- National (In)Security: The Hypersonic Road To Hell
- Lockheed Martin Awarded Second Contract Worth $480mn For Hypersonic Missile Weapons
- Watch: Lockheed Martin Successfully Flies Its Newest Hypersonic Missile On B-52 Bomber
- Air Force Eyes Hypersonic Weapons For B1 Bomber
- USAF Prepares For Imminent Hypersonic Missile Test
- USAF Hypersonic Missile Fails To Launch In Highly-Anticipated Test
The US is attempting to field the ARRW in the early 2020s, but the latest setbacks could delay fielding the super-fast new weapons.