Lockheed Martin’s hypersonic ‘Arrow’ misses bull’s eye, US ends deal

By Baba Tarnim,
Published by Interesting Engineering, 1 April 2023

The announcement follows a failed test earlier in March, despite achieving a peak velocity of five times the speed of sound in December.

The U.S. Air Force has announced that it will not utilize Lockheed Martin’s AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Reaction Weapon (ARRW) or “Arrow.”

The announcement follows a failed test earlier in March, despite achieving a peak velocity of five times the speed of sound in December, according to multiple media sources on Friday.

“The USAF will not buy the weapon, but they will complete testing,” the acquisition lead Andrew Hunter testified in writing to the House Tactical Air and Ground Forces Subcommittee on March 29.

“While the Air Force does not currently intend to pursue follow-on procurement of ARRW once the prototyping program concludes,” said Defense News, quoting Hunter’s written testimony.

“There is inherent benefit to completing the all-up round test flights to garner the learning and test data that will help inform future hypersonic programs.”

The inability of the weapon to communicate in-flight performance data ruined the hypersonic missile prototype’s second test flight, according to two people familiar with the findings, said a Bloomberg report on Tuesday. 

The U.S. Air Force did not mention the transmission issue or data loss experienced during the exercise on March 13 in a statement released on March 24 that stated the test “met several of the objectives and team engineers and testers are collecting data for further analysis.” 

A blow to catching up with China

According to defense experts, this is a blow to U.S. efforts to catch up to China and Russia in a crucial weapons capability.

Despite not being selected, Lockheed Martin told Breaking Defense that the corporation is “committed to developing hypersonic technology on an accelerated timeline to meet this critical national security need.”

Despite the losses, DARPA and the Air Force are still working on hypersonic weapons, which is a major area of interest for the U.S. military.

Both the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) program and the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) by DARPA are actively testing prototypes, including one from Lockheed.

The conclusion of the all-up-round test flights for ARRW will yield useful information and lessons that will guide future hypersonic efforts.

The U.S. military’s capacity to stay up with Russia and China, who have hypersonic weapons available for use, may be impacted by the program’s discontinuation.

See: Original Article