Air Force conducts first successful test of ARRW hypersonic missile

By Shelley K. Mesch / May 17, 2022 at 9:20 AM

The Air Force successfully tested its Air-launched Rapid Response hypersonic missile Saturday, the service announced this week.

Released from the B-52H Stratofortress off the coast of Southern California, the ARRW’s booster ignited and reached speeds five times the speed of sound, according to a statement released Monday evening.

“This was a major accomplishment by the ARRW team, for the weapons enterprise, and our Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, program executive officer for weapons. “The team's tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year's challenges to get us to the recent success. We are ready to build on what we've learned and continue moving hypersonics forward.”

This is the first successful test of the embattled ARRW program, following three failed tests last year. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has signaled caution with the program, and the service announced with its fiscal year 2023 budget that it would not seek any procurement funding, as had been expected.

“We want to see proof of success before we commit to production,” Kendall told members of the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee just last week.

ARRW is designed to threaten fixed, high-value and time-sensitive targets from stand-off distances and to expand precision-strike capabilities, according to the news release.

Kendall has on several occasions stressed the importance of designing weapons, including hypersonics, to meet U.S. needs, rather than “mirroring” the capabilities of adversaries like China. He told the House Armed Services Committee last month that hypersonics have a role in the Air Force arsenal but they are not a “panacea.”