The new ARRW (Air launched Rapid Response Weapon) AGM-183A missile was tested two days ago from Edwards Air Base, California.
Placed under the wings of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the missile was not launched but went on a "test ride" chock full of sensors that measured aerodynamic and structural response, and vibrations in relation to the aircraft.
Hypersonic weapons have the potential to revolutionize weapons for the 21st century just as the jet engine did for the 20th. Of course, operating at speeds exceeding Mach 5 (5.440km / h) poses greater engineering challenges: for this reason development does not proceed by big leaps but by cautious successive steps.
ARRW is one of two hypersonic weapons developed by the Air Force, and will be operational from 2022 if the major efforts announced by Lockheed Martin are respected.
"We have developed a very AGGRESSIVE roadmap (that too, ed) that will lead us to the development of ARRW," says Will roper, head of the Air Force for technology and logistics.