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ARRW to undergo long-awaited first booster test

8th March 2021 - 14:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

After repeated false starts, first test flight of AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon is scheduled for this month.

The Armament Directorate in the USAF Life Cycle Management Center announced on 5 March that the first booster test flight (BTF-1) of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) is expected ‘in the next 30 days’.

The ARRW test missile was delivered to Edwards Air Force Base on 1 March for loading on a B-52H Stratofortress.

Work is under way on pre-flight ground tests ‘and checks to obtain certification for the flight to proceed as scheduled’, the USAF added.

BTF-1 was originally scheduled for December 2020 before being pushed back to the first week of March 2021. No official explanation was given as to why the test launch has been repeatedly delayed.

Meanwhile, the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate  in the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded SpaceX an $8.5 million manufacturing research contract for hypersonic vehicle thermal shields.

‘The objective is to refine thermal protection system manufacturing technologies to enable low-cost, high volume production of next-generation thermal protection systems,’ according to the contract notice.

SpaceX is already expanding heat shield production facilities for its Starship reusable launch vehicle.

The AFRL aims to test additive manufacturing and other advanced techniques for hypersonic air and space vehicles, to see if they can shield them from the extreme heat generated in ballistic re-entry.

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