The first booster test flight of the U.S. Air Force’s first hypersonic missile will take place this month with production beginning next year.
The development was revealed by Air Force acquisition boss Will Roper at the inaugural Doolittle Leadership Center Forum on December 14.
The AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) completed captive-carry testing in August when a B-52 Stratofortress took off with the weapon. It is expected to be armed on B-1B bomber and F-15 jets.
The ARRW program is a rapid prototyping project aimed at delivering a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s. The weapon system is designed to provide combatant commanders the capability to destroy high-value, time-sensitive targets.
ARRW will also expand precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling rapid response strikes against heavily defended land targets.
The ARRW is expected to travel at Mach 5 or higher, to overcome enemy defenses. Initial operational capability is scheduled to be achieved by fiscal 2022 - five years earlier than if it was a traditional program.
In addition, Lockheed Martin is already working on Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW) program. HCSW is a hypersonic boost glide development and test program capable of launch from a B-52 with the ability to penetrate long-range air defense areas.