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.

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.

“We’re 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.”

“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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70 year old design carries C21st technology. Sounds like me and my iPhone!



I can remember around 20 years ago we got our first family computer and I was trying to teach my mum how to use it, she had never used a computer before, me and my sister, who had computers in school, were saying “right you want to click on login, so move the cursor up using the mouse” she actually lifted the mouse in the air ??


Quite scary how quickly we are left behind really. In the 70s I was pulling Decca radar sets to bits. Even managed to get some working! Having been teaching history for the last 25 years much of the high tech electronics world has passed me by. Looking at it objectively, the pace of development over the last 100 years has been astonishing. Not quite Dan Dare of the Eagle comic, but in some ways, far more impressive!


The Mighty Buff will soldier on for another 2 decades too… It will be the equivalent of a Lancaster flying combat missions over Syria today…



Some of the latest stuff is classified of course but if that weren’t the case it would be fascinating to see some sort of photo montage of some of the interior spaces, consoles etc to see how they have evolved over the 70 years (and by the time they finally go out of service more like 90 years!) as the internal electronics and presumably various other systems have been upgraded.


However I suspect they are now completely redundent in any scenario where air defence is an issue. They look mighty powerful and pack a huge punch, but would take one brave pilot to actually fly one in a peer or near peer situation, as they would have huge radar cross sections and very little mobility.


For conventional bombing, definitely. The BUFF wouldn’t even manage to get close.

With a payload of air launched hypersonic cruise missiles though? It’s probable that they’ll launch outside intercept range (the S-400 has an effective range of around 400km), acting as a missile bus while targeting data is provided by stealth fighters or drones.


On the assumption that the opponent doesn’t have any fighter jets that would easily be able to chase them down.


It’s the reason the USAF is keeping 70 or so around for so long. They’re just big, high payload missile shooters that do not get withing enemy ADA range in high threat environments. The B1 will play the same role with the LRASMs in the Pacific against the PLAN.



They’re also fully capable of treetop level low level ingress as well. BELIEVE me… 😀


I suspect the real reason they are kept around is they look big and powerful and so set a serious statement of intent. The issue is any radar would see them miles off and interceptors sent way before they managed to get into range of their long range missiles. Flying close to the ground was proven to be not very effective against modern radars in the gulf wars, as ground tracking radars could easily pick them up. In an era of warfare against opponents with no realistic air defense they have been highly successful but if the US went to… Read more »


You make good points Steve on the BUFF’s survivability against peer air defenses. However, the idea is for the bombers to launch completely outside of enemy AD coverage – say from waters off of Anderson AFB Guam which are definitely not contested by the PLAN. Launching modern long range missiles with thousands of miles of range is going to be the new normal BECAUSE of the advances in air defense. It will complicate the defense planning process even more when hypersonic missiles are fielded by both sides. Currently, only the B2 has and the upcoming B21 will have a penetration… Read more »


The problem I see with this is that the plane would still get tracked by long range radar, and so launch points will be known making intercepting the missiles easier, plus interceptors could be launched well before it is capable of launching the missiles.

It seems to me that it would be far safer to have a sub launch the missiles.

Bill Edmead

Disagree with that Steve. Only a multiple launch would make it effective admittedley but percentage wise, enough would likely get through.


Assuming that the enemy has a very long range surveillance radar (in excess of – say 1000 miles- for tracking individual aircraft (they don’t – neither do we) it would still fall far short in the “Tyranny of Distance” that is the Pacific Theater. Also, the current missiles either fielding or in development are a stealth design that would be very difficult to detect at such distances such as the LRASM. Current interceptors of both sides only have a few hundred miles of unrefueled range so there is no possibility that they could intercept the launch aircraft at launch ranges… Read more »