US tests AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missile

Dhe United States has apparently reached a milestone in the hypersonic arms race with Russia and China. The US Air Force announced on Monday the first successful air test of an AGM-183 ARRW (“Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon”) weapon. In professional circles it is considered the answer to the Russian Ch-47M2 Kinschal (“Dagger”). The approximately eight-meter-long air-to-surface missile was first used by Russia on March 19 during the invasion of Ukraine. After that, it was used several times, for example last week in an attack on the port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine.

According to the US Air Force, a Boeing B-52H long-range bomber launched the ARRW over the US west coast in southern California on Saturday. After separation, the rocket engine ignited, burned for the predicted duration, and accelerated the ARRW to more than five times the speed of sound. It’s about 6174 kilometers per hour. In its press release, the Air Force itself called the test a “great achievement”, saying it had “written history” and would do everything possible to make “the weapon revolutionary”. available for combat missions as quickly as possible.

German rocket scientist Markus Schiller assumes that the ARRW will go to the armed forces from 2023. “This weapon is obviously intended for Russia and China,” Schiller told FAZ on Tuesday, “and the Americans are working ‘hard off’. Lockheed Martin was ordered to develop the hypersonic weapon in August 2018. A few months earlier, on March 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled the kinshah as one of several “super-weapons” capable of defeating all enemy defenses.

Unlike Kinschal, the ARRW does not have the option of also being nuclear. However, the weapon can also be used to precisely eliminate high-value targets such as command posts, ammunition depots or communications facilities deep in enemy space or to support troops from a distance at forehead. Due to its high speed, it is virtually uninterceptable even for sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems.

Western experts suspect defense systems are in trouble because hypersonic weapons quickly fly between the different altitude ranges for which they are actually designed. According to the manufacturer, the ARRW should be able to reach up to twenty times the speed of sound. According to the Kremlin, the Kinzhal reaches at most half.

Several countries are currently working on the development of their own hypersonic weapons systems, including the United States and China. North Korea also wants to have them. NATO also lists research in Britain, France, Germany, Australia and India in a 2020 article. Part of it also relates to defense against hypersonic weapons.

Not all US hypersonic developments are progressing as quickly as the ARRW. In March, the United States tested a new long-range air-to-surface missile called the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC). According to Markus Schiller, it will take years before it becomes operational. The Pentagon initially kept the test secret. Washington wanted to avoid further tensions with Moscow amid the war in Ukraine and an impending trip to Europe by President Joe Biden. Obviously, this concern no longer exists at ARRW.

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