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Lockheed Martin AGM-183 ARRW

The AGM-183A ARRW (Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon) is a U.S. Air Force program to develop a bomber-launched hypersonic ground-attack missile.

Lockheed Martin received the first development contract for ARRW in 2018, and captive-tests on a B-52H began in mid-2019. The flight tests between 2020 and 2022 first tried to verify separation and booster preformance, but were plagued by problems. After three failed launches, the first successful hypersonic flight eventually occurred in May 2022.

Photo: USAF

After release from the bomber, the rocket motor ignites and propels the missile to high altitude and a speed of at least Mach 5. When the rocket shuts down, the nose cone detaches and the hypersonic glide vehicle is released. The glider can approach the target with various flight profiles, but would typically use a significanly lower and flatter approach than ballistic missiles, which makes detection and interception much more difficult. The quoted speed range of the glide vehicle varies greatly, from Mach 7-8 to Mach 20. The payload is described as a tungsten fragmentation warhead, with the energy presumably coming from the kinetic energy of the hypersonic missile.

Image: Lockheed Martin
AGM-183A (nose cone separation concept drawing)

The multiple test failures didn't help to support the ARRW missile, and after another failed flight test in March 2023, it was reported that the program would be cancelled. However, the USAF has since then conducted at least two further test launches, using remaining AGM-183A all-up rounds. At the time of this writing, the final fate of the ARRW program is not entirely clear.


Note: Data given by several sources show significant variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for AGM-183A:

Length6.7 m (22 ft)
Diameter0.7 m (2.2 ft)
Weight3000 kg (6600 lb)
SpeedMach 7+
Range1600 km (1000 miles)
PropulsionSolid-fueled rocket
WarheadTungsten fragmentation

Main Sources

[1] Wikipedia: AGM-183 ARRW

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Last Updated: 2 January 2024