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Pentagon conducts hypersonic weapon test — Analysis

The US Air Force called the trial a ‘major accomplishment’ after a series of failed launch tests

US military claimed that it had conducted an experiment for hypersonic missile technology. It claims the weapon achieved speeds of more than five times sound speed. After three failed tests, it was the first launch of the prototype.

On Monday the Air Force reported that the test took place over the weekend at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The trial saw a B-52 Stratofortress bomber release an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) off California’s southern coast. 

“Following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound,”According to the military, it was a false statement, and Brigadier-General Heath Collins, Air Force weapons program executive officer, called the test an “amazing coincidence”. “major accomplishment.”

Though the Pentagon has claimed the weapon’s boost-glide system could theoretically reach speeds of Mach 20, or 20 times the speed of sound, it achieved much lower numbers during Saturday’s test. Officials did not specify how far the missile flew during the latest launch, but the military has previously placed its operational range at around 1,000 miles (1,609km).

The ARRW, which Lockheed Martin has been working on since 2018, only had a limited number of flight trials. There have also been three unsuccessful booster tests in April and December of 2021. Although the previous sensors and communications system trials were successful, technical difficulties caused officials to delay their program for up to a full year. 

Two weeks prior, lawmakers had proposed to reduce funding by half for the iconic weapon. “recent failures and delays in testing.” The decision killed the Air Force’s plans to purchase the first 12 ARRW missiles from Lockheed Martin this year, leaving a number of unanswered questions about the procurement process.

Though the US has yet to field a hypersonic platform, the ARRW is not the only one in the works, with the Pentagon reportedly carrying out a test for a new ‘Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept’ in mid-March under secrecy, according to a US official cited by CNN. An unnamed official claimed that the test was conducted to keep tensions from escalating with Russia as it occurred just weeks following Moscow’s continuing offensive in Ukraine. 

Russia has also developed – and deployed – hypersonic weapons of its own, including the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger), which entered service in late 2017. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, a Kinzhal had been used in March to demolish an ammunition depot located in west Ukraine.

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US secretly tested hypersonic missile – media

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