USAF validates first hypersonic weapon loading procedures

U.S. Air Force photo

Aircrew from the Barksdale Air Force Base finished drawing up the loading procedures of the Lockheed Martin AGM-183 ARRW (Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon) hypersonic missile on the external pylon of the B-52 strategic bomber. 

The operational procedures were planned out by members of the 2nd Maintenance Group, 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and civilians from the ARRW and B-52H Stratofortress Systems Programs Office. They include both attaching and unloading the weapon from the aircraft. 

“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 Sergeant Caleb Nolen, Air Force Global Strike B-52 armament systems manager, in a press release

The ARRW is one of two USAF programs currently developing a hypersonic platform. The AGM-183 is a boost-glide weapon, meaning that once the booster helps the warhead to reach its cruise speed, the warhead detaches and starts maneuvering towards the target, avoiding countermeasures.   

During its first test conducted on May 14, 2022, the weapon reached a speed of over Mach 5 (6,000 kilometers per hour). 

The ARRW is scheduled to begin live-fire testing near the end of 2022 and to be operational by fall 2023. 

Hypersonic technology has become a priority of the United States military with the emergence of similar weapons in the arsenals of other world powers, such as Russia and China.  


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