The US Air Force’s top hypersonic weapon completed the second consecutive successful test of its booster motor in less than two months, the service said, a turnaround after three failures.
The US Air Force’s top hypersonic weapon completed the second consecutive successful test of its booster motor in less than two months, the service said, a turnround after three failures.
The weapon built by Lockheed Martin Corp. “reached hypersonic speeds” and “primary and secondary objectives were met” in the test on Tuesday off a B-52 bomber, Brigadier General Heath Collins, the program manager, said in a statement Wednesday. “We have now completed our booster test series and are ready to move forward to all-up-round testing later this year.”
The three previous failures derailed plans for the missile to go into production this year so that the Pentagon could declare by Sept. 30 that the air-launched weapon known as ARRW would be the US’s first combat-capable hypersonic weapon. China and Russia already have the highly maneuverable weapons that can fly at extremely high speeds.
The US goal now is to declare an “early operational capability” for the Lockheed missile by sometime in the next fiscal year, according to an earlier Air Force statement.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has signaled impatience with what’s now a $1.4 billion development effort. The service budgeted only $46 million in procurement funding in its fiscal 2023 request and none through 2027, according to the Air Force’s five-year plan.
The first test flight of the full missile — including the hypersonic glide vehicle designed to hit a target — is tentatively planned for later this calendar year, according to Air Force spokesperson Lena Lopez.