Lockheed Martin Announces Latest Hypersonic Progress at Le Bourget
Lockheed Martin Corporation successfully flight tested the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) on a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress . The captive carry flight – announced during the 2019 International Paris Air Show – marks Lockheed Martin’s most recent demonstration of hypersonic technology development.
This captive carry flight – conducted out of Edwards Air Force Base in southern California – is the latest step in the U.S. Air Force's rapid prototyping effort to mature the ARRW, which just completed a preliminary design review in March. The ARRW test article was sensor-only version with no explosives. The test article gathered environmental and aircraft handling data during the flight, such as drag and vibration impacts on the ARRW and its external aircraft-mounted carriage. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.
“We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter,” says Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. “We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners.”
More ground and flight testing will follow over the next three years to expand ARRW’s test parameters and capabilities, eventually leading to the hypersonic weapon’s planned operational status in 2022. ARRW is currently one of two ongoing U.S. Air Force hypersonic weapons efforts. The other, the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), is also under development by Lockheed Martin.
“This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face,” adds Roper.
“With hypersonic capabilities being a national security priority, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force are accelerating the maturation and fielding of a hypersonic weapon system,” says Frank St. John, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force on this important initiative.”
Hypersonic capabilities amplify many of the enduring attributes of airpower – speed, range, flexibility, and precision – and provide an affordable capability that will overcome distance in contested environments.
The ARRW rapid prototyping effort awarded a contract in August 2018 to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Florida, for critical design review, test and production readiness support to facilitate fielded prototypes. According to Lockheed Martin, its robust experience in high-speed flight has positioned the company to be an industry leader in hypersonic technology, providing the most mature and cost-effective solutions for addressing increasing threats in the global security arena.
Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development, and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defense systems against emerging hypersonic threats – in support of the U.S. government.
William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.