Posted 14 декабря 2022, 10:53
Published 14 декабря 2022, 10:53
Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:38
Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:38
Encouraged by the success, the US military even admitted the possibility of starting missile production as early as fiscal year 2024 at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control factories.
The test took place at the Point Mugu offshore test site off the coast of Southern California. On launch day, many marine vehicle owners off the coast of California watched the B-52H bomber head towards the Pacific Ocean to the test site. It was escorted by various specialized aircraft, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Research Laboratory WB-57F.
The United States has been developing hypersonic weapons since the late 1980s. Over the past years, work has been carried out on a number of projects, some were closed due to failures. The Land-Based Long-Range Hypersonic Weapons (LRHW) program is currently underway and supported by the ground forces. The Navy is trying to adapt the same missile with a solid booster to be launched from submarines.
Work accelerated noticeably after Russia announced in March 2018 that it had successfully tested the Avangard hypersonic airframe. The Americans have tensed up, and now several options for hypersonic weapons are on the way. A prototype land version of the LRHW is expected next year, a sea version in 2025. They plan to equip submarines of the Ohio class and Virginia Block V.
Lockheed Martin designers have been actively working on the ARRW air-launched missile for the past five years. The work went almost in a rush mode. Failure literally haunted. Three unsuccessful, one after another, launches even made the big ranks in the Pentagon think about the advisability of huge investments in hypersonic weapons.
Even today, skepticism persists. “We have not yet decided what we will do after the completion of the tests,” said, in particular, Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. - We are considering in cooperation the whole range of weapons and ammunition necessary to solve priority tasks. Obviously, don't buy something that doesn't work. But even if it works, it must make the right contribution to the overall weapons mix.”
The service originally planned to procure the first 12 AGM-183As in the last fiscal year, but Congress cut funding for the program due to test failures. This fiscal year, the Air Force used the funds requested for the acquisition of the first missile to continue design and research work.
The peculiarity of the current tests is that a fully operational version of the rocket was launched, even equipped with a warhead. According to data released by the Air Force press service, the missile successfully separated from the B-52N bomber (there were problems with this before), the upper stage reached the required speed, after which the nose cone separated and the hypersonic projectile went on an independent flight along a trajectory that passed within Earth's atmosphere. It has reached hypersonic speed, which starts after Mach 5, about 6 thousand kilometers per hour.
Whether the Americans were able to achieve the speed of Mach 17, which was discussed during the design work, is not reported. The projectile withstood the flight path and exploded at the training ground. Whether he made maneuvers during the flight or moved along a given trajectory is not known. Representatives of the Air Force did not tell about whether communication was maintained with the projectile. In previous experiments, a stable connection could not be achieved.
Information on the nature of the warhead is also very limited. Judging by past reports on the progress of development, it was an improved high-explosive fragmentation charge, which was supposed to contain an increased number of damaging elements in order to cover large areas.
But it is quite obvious that some progress has been made, and the Air Force command hopes to become the first owner of a formidable weapon and receive it next fall. The Air Force is already training aircraft and pilots. Last week, in particular, the pilots approved the procedures to be followed when loading AGM-183A hypersonic missiles onto B-52H strategic bombers.