The US military didn’t succeed in conducting a test of a hypersonic missile prototype, with the munition failing to decouple from its carrier aircraft. This is the third failure in a row for the US ARRW hypersonic weapon program.
The unsuccessful attempt to test the new missile prototype was made by the US Air Force on Wednesday. The munition failed to leave its carrier aircraft for an unspecified reason, returning safely back to the ground.
“On 15 Dec. 2021, the Department of the Air Force attempted a booster test flight of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) from a B-52 Stratofortress,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Heath Collins told The War Zone magazine in a statement.
The launch sequence was aborted before release with an unknown issue. The missile will return to the factory and analysis of the telemetry and onboard data will begin immediately. The program will seek to resume flight test as quickly as possible.
The ARRW is one of the US’ programs to develop hypersonic weaponry, with the Pentagon hoping it will beat competition from Russia and China. The stated goal of the program is to reach initial operational capability with the missile in September 2022, yet underwhelming testing progress might push that objective further into the future.
The new unsuccessful test of the AGM-183A missile is the third failure for the US hypersonic weapons program this year. Two previous tests, conducted back in April and July were also unsuccessful.The April test appeared to be similar to the new flop, with the missile failing to separate from the carrier aircraft. During the second test attempt in July, the missile decoupled from the plane yet its engine failed to ignite, with the projectile plummeting to its doom. The failure was described as a ‘partial success’ by the US military back then, as the testing team was able to collect some data related to the missile’s launch procedure.