US Air Force flight tests hypersonic missile on B-52 bomber

The U.S. Air Force successfully conducted a flight test of a hypersonic missile Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California, according to a news release.

The flight test collected data on drag and vibration impacts on the weapon and the B-52 Stratofortress carrying it. The AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon did not contain explosives and was not released from the aircraft, the Air Force said.

The service noted that such tests are required for all of its weapons systems during development.

“We’re using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter,” Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in a statement. “This type of speed in our acquisition system is essential – it allows us to field capabilities rapidly to compete against the threats we face.”

The United States is working to catch up to adversaries Russia and China on hypersonic weapons technology.

The Air Force awarded a contract to develop the hypersonic missile to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in August 2018.

The missile is scheduled to reach early operational capability by fiscal 2022.