3,850 mp/h speed: US successfully launched ARRW from an aircraft
WASHINGTON — The US Air Force has conducted a test of a Lockheed Martin hypersonic missile, several sources have reported, including Reuters, citing a well-informed source, noting that there are concerns that Russia and China have made significant progress in developing hypersonic missile systems.
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According to the same source, the ARRW [Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon] missile was successfully launched from an aircraft off the coast of California. In previous tests, the missile did not separate from the aircraft.
Supersonic rockets travel in the upper atmosphere at a speed of 3,853 mp/h [6,200 km/h], about five times the speed of sound.
In a separate successful test of a hypersonic weapon conducted recently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] demonstrated “Operational Fires,” or OpFires: a missile launch system that engages targets with high speed and precision, penetrating enemy air defenses. DARPA has secured $45 million for OpFires from the 2022 budget.
Lockheed Martin is pursuing a modification of its HIMARS multiple launch system to be able to launch DARPA’s hypersonic weapon. We recall that the American HIMARS were recently received by the Ukrainian armed forces.
The successful tests followed the failed test launch of a different type of hypersonic missile, the C-HGB [Common Hypersonic Glide Body] on June 29 in Hawaii.
Defense industries are trying to win the arms race of the new superpower and move to hypersonic weapons, not only by building them but also by developing new detection and neutralization mechanisms.
US hypersonic missile reached Mach 5
In March this year, Lockheed Martin and DARPA conducted a successful test of Lockheed Martin’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile [HACM] powered by a scramjet.
Although the information has not been officially released, experts say that during the HACM test it reached a speed just above Mach 5 at an altitude of 65,000 feet and a distance of 300 miles. At these parameters, this means that the missile has reached its final destination in less than 5 minutes.
According to US sources, the test was performed on the west coast of the United States. The missile was fired from aboard the B-52 Stratofortress bomber. The missile propulsion process was two-step – a rocket booster provided conventional acceleration, and a Lockheed Martin scramjet provided maximum speed to the final destination.
The development of hypersonic weapons is under the auspices of DARPA. This test is actually the second success for the agency. The first was held a few months ago with a missile HAWC built by Raytheon and also powered by a scramjet, but built by Northrop Grumman. Raytheon and Lockheed are fighting for the design, development, and production of next-generation hypersonic missiles.
The tests are important because they assess the behavior of the rocket after it is powered by jet engines to achieve hypersonic speeds. These missiles fly like planes in a stable trajectory. This allows them to be highly maneuverable, which helps to avoid being intercepted by an enemy anti-aircraft missile system. Experts from around the world say there is currently no technology that can intercept a hypersonic missile.
Future US ICBM vehicle explodes
The Minotaur II+ rocket, which the US will use for the LGM-35 Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] and W87-1 nuclear warhead – the Mk21A, conducted its first test, but it was unsuccessful. Days ago, on July 7th, during the first test at Vandenberg Space Force Base [VSFB], the rocket exploded 11 seconds after launch.
Immediately after the explosion, which was very close to the launch pad, debris fell into the area. VSFB officials reported no injuries but said the explosion did cause a fire on North Base. A press release from Col. Kris Barcomb, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander confirms what we know, adding that the base’s priority has always been security, and after the incident, emergency teams responded immediately. At the moment, the cause of the explosion is not clear, but the base announced that an investigation had begun.
According to the Pentagon’s plans, the new intercontinental ballistic missiles should begin entering the equipment of the US strategic nuclear forces in 2029 to replace the outdated Minuteman III missiles that have been in service since the early 1970s.
The missile is being developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation under a contract with the US Air Force for $13.3 billion. The US Department of Defense estimates that the cost of acquiring new missiles will be more than $95 billion.
The United States now has 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, each of which can deliver up to three nuclear warheads at a distance of 12,000 km. They are the only force-based intermediate ballistic missiles in the triad of US strategic nuclear forces.
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