During tests over Point Mugu Sea Range off California’s coast, a B-52 Stratofortress attempted to launch the Lockheed Martin ARRW booster vehicle. However, “the test missile was not able to complete its launch sequence”, and the bomber returned to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with the test vehicle, the Air Force said in a statement.
The service plans on studying the missile to understand why it didn’t launch, make alterations, and then attempt to fire it in a future test, the service said.
“The ARRW program has been pushing boundaries since its inception and taking calculated risks to move this important capability forward,” said Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force’s program executive officer for its armaments directorate. “While not launching was disappointing, the recent test provided invaluable information to learn from and continue ahead.”
The test was carried out by the 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force (GPB CTF) at Edwards AFB.
The Air Force awarded Lockheed a contract worth up to $480 million for ARRW development activities in 2018, including the critical design review, testing and production readiness support.
The service presently plans to buy at least eight full-up prototype AGM-183As, at least four of which it expects to launch during live-fire testing that is still scheduled to begin later this year.
The B-52H is expected to be the primary launch platform for the AGM-183A. Aircraft can carry up to four weapons at a time, two under each wing. Boeing is reportedly in the process of developing new underwing pylons, dubbed Hercules, each of which would be able to hold three ARRWs. Once air-launched, ARRW is intended to travel 500 miles in just 10 minutes.