Military Embedded Systems

Hypersonic flight test ends with rocket motor failure


August 02, 2021

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Stock image.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. The U.S. Air Force conducted its second AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) booster flight test. Officials claim that it did not meet all flight objectives, but that the test did demonstrate several first-time events as the program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s.

Objectives for the test included demonstrating the safe release of the booster test vehicle from the B-52H and assessing booster performance. An Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) B-52 released the ARRW test missile, dubbed Booster Test Vehicle 1b or BTV-1b, over Point Mugu Sea Range.

Officials claim the missile separated from the aircraft and demonstrated the full release sequence including GPS acquisition, umbilical disconnect, and power transfer from the aircraft to the missile. The missile also demonstrated fin operation and de-confliction maneuvers which aim to ensure a safe operation for the aircrew.

However, the rocket motor did not ignite. The ARRW team claims that it will continue to progress through the rapid prototyping effort. The weapon system is designed to provide the ability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets. It will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.

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