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AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon - ARRW / Arrow

On August 13, 2018 the Air Force awarded a contract not to exceed $480,000,000 to Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control to begin designing a second hypersonic weapon prototype. This contract seems to have come out of nearly nowhere. FedBizOpps has never heard of anything by this name.

In May 2018 the US Air Force launched an ambitious campaign to expedite development of a hypersonic weapon amid concerns expressed by US officials about tismlar efforts in China and Russia. "I am working with the team on acceleration and I am very confident that a significant acceleration is possible," Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, told Warrior Maven 08 May 20188. The service is willing to move forward with an effective "90 percent" solution instead of waiting many more years for a "100 percent," the acquisitions official told the news outlet. Still, he "was clear not to pinpoint an as-of-yet undetermined timeline," Warrior Maven reported.

A hypersonic weapon or vehicle is one whose speed exceeds five times the speed of sound, or upwards of 3,800 mph, a limit that present propulsion technology can barely reach. The fluid dynamics of air at those speeds behave radically differently than at the slower speeds at which most missiles and jet aircraft travel, presenting unique problems for designers. Roper said the USAF is developing a prototype for an air-launched "boost glide" weapon that accelerates into space before using the force of gravity to hit targets at higher speed on its descent. Further, engineers are developing a second demonstrator for a future "Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon" that relies on more mature technology. The Air Force is collaborating with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on both projects. "The two systems have different flight profiles, payload sizes and provide complementary offensive capabilities," the spokeswoman told Warrior Maven.

This contract will provide the critical design review, test and production readiness support for the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). "We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible," said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson.

The ARRW effort is one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts being pursued by the Air Force to accelerate hypersonic research and development. The Air Force is using rapid prototyping authorized by Section 804 of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act to explore the art-of-the-possible and to advance these technologies to a capability in 2021.

Leaders from the Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, Navy and Army signed a memorandum of agreement June 28 to work cooperatively on hypersonic boost glide technology development. "The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. "We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond."

This undefinitized contract action allows the government to meet urgent needs by authorizing the contractor to begin work before reaching a final settlement on contract terms and conditions, to include a final negotiated price. The contract is expected to be definitized within 180 days of award.

The Air Force's other hypersonic weapon rapid prototyping effort is called the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW). The ARRW and HCSW efforts are developing unique capabilities for the warfighter and each has different technical approaches. The ARRW effort is "pushing the art-of-the-possible" by leveraging the technical base established by the Air Force/DARPA partnership. The HCSW effort is using mature technologies that have not been integrated for an air-launched delivery system.

The Armament Directorate of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is providing program management of these prototyping efforts.

The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted the first flight test of its AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, on a B-52 Stratofortress aircraft on 12 June 2019 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. A sensor-only version of the ARRW prototype was carried externally by a B-52 during the test to gather environmental and aircraft handling data.

The test gathered data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon itself and on the external carriage equipment of the aircraft. The prototype did not have explosives and it was not released from the B-52 during the flight test. This type of data collection is required for all Air Force weapon systems undergoing development.

Were using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter, said 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.

The Air Force is leading the way in air-launched hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts. As one of two rapid prototyping hypersonic efforts, ARRW is set to reach early operational capability by fiscal year 2022. This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face, Roper said. The flight test serves as the first of many flight tests that will expand the test parameters and capabilities of the ARRW prototype.




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