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The Air Force has requested $115 million for the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon in its budget proposed for fiscal year 2023.

The Air Force has requested $115 million for the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon in its budget proposed for fiscal year 2023. (Giancarlo Casem/U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force achieved a “major accomplishment” in successfully firing a hypersonic weapon from a B-52 bomber on Saturday, the service announced Monday.

The Stratofortress released an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, off the Southern California coast, the Air Force said in a news release.

The service said the weapon traveled five times faster than the speed of sound.

China and Russia have tested their own versions of hypersonic weapons. Russia claimed to be first to use one in combat by testing its version against Ukraine in March, according to Al Jazeera on March 21. American military leaders want hypersonic weapons to defend against those developed by China and Russia.

“This was a major accomplishment by the ARRW team, for the weapons enterprise, and our Air Force,” Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, Air Force program executive officer for weapons, said in the news release. “The team's tenacity, expertise, and commitment were key in overcoming the past year's challenges to get us to the recent success. We are ready to build on what we've learned and continue moving hypersonics forward.”

Tests of the weapon in April, July and December of last year all failed during the launch process, according to a May 5 report by the Congressional Research Service.

“The Air Force continues to assert that, despite these failures, ‘it is still possible to provide [early operational capability] in late calendar year 2022, provided future flight testing [of ARRW] concludes as per the current plan,’ ” the report said.

The Air Force has requested $115 million for this hypersonic weapon in its budget proposed for fiscal year 2023, which begins Oct. 1, the report said. That is $204 million less than was appropriated for fiscal year 2022, the report said.

Saturday’s test was executed by the 419th Flight Test Squadron and the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force, both at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

In the news release, Lt. Col. Michael Jungquist, commander of the 419th and the test force, lauded the team that “made history on this first air-launched hypersonic weapon.”

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.
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