WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has revealed it conducted a test launch of its hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, earlier this month, but it remains unclear whether the event was a success.
The service said in a statement Friday that a B-52H Stratofortress bomber released the fully operational prototype ARRW, which is made by Lockheed Martin, off the coast of southern California. The March 13 test represented the second launch of an ARRW operational prototype and focused on the weapon’s end-to-end performance, the Air Force said.
The Air Force added that “the test met several of the objectives,” without providing further details. The wording differs from a service statement released in December following the first launch of an operational ARRW prototype, which said “all objectives were met” in that Dec. 9 test.
The Air Force’s December statement also said the B-52 “successfully released” the ARRW. The most recent release on the March test did not use the word successful, simply noting that a “B-52H Stratofortress released” the second ARRW prototype.
The statement about the December test specified that the ARRW reached hypersonic speeds greater than Mach 5, completed its planned flight path and detonated. The March statement did not include such statements.
Engineers and testers from the ARRW team “are collecting data for further analysis,” the Air Force said. The test was conducted by the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Asked whether the March 13 test was successful, the Air Force told Defense News it would not provide further information beyond what was in the release.
“We expect less information to be available on this topic in the future for operational security reasons,” a Defense Department official told Defense News.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.