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AGM-183A ARRW

ocay

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So is this basically Air launched ballistic missile rather than a exotic air breathing hypersonic missile?
 

TomS

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So is this basically Air launched ballistic missile rather than a exotic air breathing hypersonic missile?
No, because it's a boost-glide weapon. That means that it's flying aerodynamically, not falling ballistically like a ballistic missile. But yes, the propulsion is all rocket, not air-breathing. Which is why this is closer to operational than the various air-breathing concepts.
 
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Josh_TN

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That weapon suspiciously looks like the upper two stages of a Minuteman III with a truncated payload shroud. Using dimensions someone posted above, 6.5 - 1.7 = 4.8 meters. Minuteman III 2nd stage: ~2.67 meters. Minuteman III 3rd stage: ~1.68 meters. So total 4.35m, plus presumably some interstage length, which puts it in the ballpark of 4.8 meters. If we were comfortable with a width of 1.3 meters, is this thing most of the top half of a minuteman III minus the 4th stage rocket/interstage and warhead bus?

Whatever it is, I feel it had to be a pre-existing booster of some kind for it to be rolled out as quickly as it was. If not MMIII, then some other small sized solid launcher from Orbital or whoever.

Edit: After reading through the general hypersonic topic, there are multiple projects that seem to involve a 34.5" wide missile that seems to have been adopted widely across all the various boost/glide projects, including the USN and Army. So that would fit much better in the diameters estimates posted here. I still suspect this booster had some kind of pre-existing pedigree, maybe an upper stage of a small to medium sized orbital system.
 
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Ravinoff

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Edit: After reading through the general hypersonic topic, there are multiple projects that seem to involve a 34.5" wide missile that seems to have been adopted widely across all the various boost/glide projects, including the USN and Army. So that would fit much better in the diameters estimates posted here. I still suspect this booster had some kind of pre-existing pedigree, maybe an upper stage of a small to medium sized orbital system.
Digging around a bit, might have a few candidates.
  • Orbital ATK Orion 38, used on Pegasus, Minotaur upper stages and Antares, 38"/94cm diameter
  • Northrop Grumman Graphite-Epoxy Motor, specifically the 40" diameter GEM-40 from the Delta II
  • Thiokol Star 37, upper stage on some Delta-family and Thor-Burner launch vehicles, 37" diameter
  • Thiokol Castor 4 series, ~1m/36" diameter
Any of those sound plausible?

Edit to add: 34.5" also compares very closely with Nike Zeus at 36" and the old WS-199C High Virgo and WS-199D Alpha Draco at 31", the latter two intriguingly were boost-glide test vehicles as well.
 
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Josh_TN

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When I tried looking for candidates, I was bewildered with the variety of solid rockets from Northrop alone. They had a pdf that describes the GEM series for a dozen pages. So this is a hopeless task, and it might be that this particular booster is a black program come to light and the USN specifically contracted this size for submarine use*, since they appear to be spear heading the first wave of boost/glide for all services. The 2017 test was theirs; the army is adapting their full up round, and ARRW looks suspiciously like the same dimensions.

The only thing I could turn up was that the original army hypersonic boost glide from 2011 was STARS, which is a Polaris missile converted to a BM target. In that case converted to a glide vehicle booster. It’s if anything wider than minuteman upper stages and the weights of both would be prohibitive on a B-52 HSA beam adapter now that I think about it. So I definitely barked up the wrong tree.

The USN test in 2017 probably used something else, but they aren’t saying. But whatever they used, it looks like ARRW and LRHW share the same booster and biconical glide vehicle. Those programs seem to be the quick deployment low hanging fruit set for IOC in the 2023-2025 range, with more capability introduced in following programs.


*Edit to add: I've read a USN paper about hypersonics, and there position is they aren't tailoring it to any specific platform...but they want it to be flown from any platform, and submarines have the most stringent requirements. Ergo, they are making a sub launched weapon and worrying about what they put it on later. Spoiler alert, it will be a submarine - either a post refit SSGN or they will wait for Block V Virginia, which should come out around the same time. If they were being cheap they might keep the old Ohios as BGM-109 platforms but make sure all the payload extensions were Prompt Global Strik capable. They see to be the ones choosing the booster and the terminal shape right now. Which I personally am fine with, and I'm glad the services are standardizing to at least some degree. The wackier programs that involve smaller air breathing scramjets can wait until later, in my opinion. Something basic and boost glide that is just GPS and INS brings a lot to the table; terminal homing and air breathing can wait a few years.
 
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Ravinoff

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I've read a USN paper about hypersonics, and there position is they aren't tailoring it to any specific platform...but they want it to be flown from any platform, and submarines have the most stringent requirements. Ergo, they are making a sub launched weapon and worrying about what they put it on later. Spoiler alert, it will be a submarine - either a post refit SSGN or they will wait for Block V Virginia, which should come out around the same time. If they were being cheap they might keep the old Ohios as BGM-109 platforms but make sure all the payload extensions were Prompt Global Strik capable.
Hm...here's a thought: a UGM-133 Trident II is 6ft11in diameter, with a tube size of 88in, With a 34.5" footprint, you can pretty handily fit two of these new hypersonics in place of a Trident cell, and by extension also drop a pair of them in place of each seven-round Tomahawk VLS on the Virginia-class and SSGN Ohio refits.
 

Josh_TN

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Actually I was thinking you could probably fit 3-4 per tube. Seven feet diameter would allow four missiles to sit abreast in two axis, depending on the containerization and the degree of shock hardening. The 34.5" diameter seems to be USN driven, which makes me think that as much as they claim to be agnostic about launch platform, they envision this is a Trident tube module for the non SSBN force tubes from the get go. The size and weight of this weapon don't translate into any surface vessel well. More over, if the range is on the order of 1000-2000 miles, if it isn't under water, it might as well be the Army version and hop around Guam between the current airbase, the munitions dump, and what's left of the old airbase that hasn't been paved over for ELINT and Satellite tracking. Plenty of hard surfaces for a truck mounted system to drive through in that rat's maze, so long as it at least had low pressure tires.
 

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What do you think its ARRW?

“The purpose of the demonstration was to show that we’re still able to move the bulkhead from the forward intermediate bay to the forward location; increasing the intermediate bay capacity from 180 inches to 269 inches, said Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, AFGSC. “Additionally, we demonstrated that we can still carry weapons externally on six of the eight hard points, which increases our overall carriage capacity.”

“It increases the magazine capacity of the B-1B. Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally, now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create,” Ross said. “This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”

Ross said that the B-1B was designed with eight hard points to carry weapons, as well as a moveable bulkhead...
 
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Moose

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I've read a USN paper about hypersonics, and there position is they aren't tailoring it to any specific platform...but they want it to be flown from any platform, and submarines have the most stringent requirements. Ergo, they are making a sub launched weapon and worrying about what they put it on later. Spoiler alert, it will be a submarine - either a post refit SSGN or they will wait for Block V Virginia, which should come out around the same time. If they were being cheap they might keep the old Ohios as BGM-109 platforms but make sure all the payload extensions were Prompt Global Strik capable.
Hm...here's a thought: a UGM-133 Trident II is 6ft11in diameter, with a tube size of 88in, With a 34.5" footprint, you can pretty handily fit two of these new hypersonics in place of a Trident cell, and by extension also drop a pair of them in place of each seven-round Tomahawk VLS on the Virginia-class and SSGN Ohio refits.
The Navy program envisions 3 per SSGN/SSN Payload Tube, according to most of the chatter I've seen.
 

flateric

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What do you think its ARRW?
The demonstration showed a notional hypersonic missile mock-up attached to a Conventional Rotary Launcher; the same CRL used on the B-52H.
 

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Global Strike Command is planning to put the hypersonic AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon externally on the B-1 bomber, and AFGSC chief Gen. Timothy Ray said he sees a conventional version of the Long-Range Stand-Off weapon as a sensible approach to replacing the conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile if a weapon with longer range than the JASSM-ER is required.

Ray, in an interview that will appear in the May issue of Air Force Magazine, said he wants to refurbish and modernize the remaining B-1B aircraft after the Air Force retires 17 airframes from the fleet. That modification would include opening up eight external hardpoints on the bomber’s fuselage that were originally planned to carry two ALCMS each; subsequent treaty agreements took the B-1 out of the nuclear mission and the hardpoints were covered over.

“My goal would be to bring on at least a squadron’s worth of airplanes modified with external pylons on the B-1, to carry the ARRW hypersonic cruise missile,” Ray said. A B-1 squadron typically has 18 aircraft.

The 412th test wing at Edwards AFB, Calif., demonstrated additional B-1 carriage options last August, including the use of external hardpoints, as well as expanded internal bays and use of the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher with the stealthy, conventional JASSM-ER.

Some airplanes “will need significant structural work,” Ray said. “We can do smart things, and we’ve got support from Congress to do this. This is a thing that we’re working to get ourselves through. We’ve had a very good dialog.”

Modifying the B-1s to carry the ARRW was not an item requested in the fiscal 2021 budget, Ray said, but it’s “a project we’re working on. There are several versions that we could contemplate, but we believe the easiest, fastest, and probably most effective in the short term will be to go with the external pylons.” The ARRW, he said, is “a good weapon airframe and configuration match to get us quickly into that game.”

Asked if AFGSC’s preference is for ARRW versus other hypersonic missiles, Ray said, “I think we’re going to commit to the ARRW, because I think our carriage capability is good for that.”

The Air Force is also working on the Hypersonic Air-breathing weapon Concept, or HAWC, with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Pentagon officials said the Air Force has been thinking about mixed carriage of hypersonic missiles both internally and externally, on the B-1 and B-52. Using the external hardpoints and the CSRL, a B-1 could conceivably carry 31 hypersonic missiles.

Ray said the B-52 fleet also will be configured for hypersonic missiles, and because that airframe will have new engines, radar, communications, and weapons, the plan now is to increase the bomber test fleet from two to eight aircraft at Edwards. The B-1 will be able to take some of the “load off the B-52” in hypersonic missile testing, he said. The test program, which was developed in coordination with Air Force Materiel Command, is “very aggressive” and will required USAF “to commit more aircraft, and maintainers, and operators” to test over the next three-to-five years, Ray said.

“The bomber world has been very good about combining and integrating operational and developmental test and leveraging the number of resources. And this was a conversation with [AFMC] … that we came to this solution set.”

Ray said AFGSC has not set a requirement for a conventional version of LRSO to mirror the ALCM/Conventional ALCM USAF has operated for the last 30 years, but that such a weapon would be a logical approach if a weapon with longer range is needed.

“First things first: the ALCM is aging out on us,” and must be replaced, he said. But, “I’ve shot CALCM in anger…the utility of those is unquestionable.” He’s pleased with how LRSO is progressing—“I think that’s going to be a very, very good missile”—and if there was a sudden requirement for “an even longer-ranged cruise missile with conventional capability,” LRSO would be the place to start. However, Ray noted that changes to the program have to happen “within a treaty context.”

“Right now, we’re not asking for that, based on the prioritization of the nuclear piece, … but there’s things that could change in the future.”

 
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Mark S.

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Looking at the artwork showing the AGM-183A with the payload shroud jettisoned it appears that the boost guide vehicle in my opinion is too small. If as others have determined in this thread the diameter of the booster is about 30 inches the depth of the vehicle would be 1/5 to 1/4 of this measurement or 6 to 7 1/2 inches. It's width about 15 inches and length no more than 60 inches. How would you get the control surface actuators, power sources, a flight control computer, basic structure, and thermal protection system in this small volume?
 

sferrin

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I would be very surprised if it looked anything like that picture for the reason you mention.
 

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Looking at the artwork showing the AGM-183A with the payload shroud jettisoned it appears that the boost guide vehicle in my opinion is too small. If as others have determined in this thread the diameter of the booster is about 30 inches the depth of the vehicle would be 1/5 to 1/4 of this measurement or 6 to 7 1/2 inches. It's width about 15 inches and length no more than 60 inches. How would you get the control surface actuators, power sources, a flight control computer, basic structure, and thermal protection system in this small volume?
The whole point of scrubbing the contractor released graphic would be to prevent this exact analysis IMHO.
 

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Given that size, would internal carriage require a dedicated rack system? Any chance a rotary launcher could support a reduced number? Say, four more?
 

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Given that size, would internal carriage require a dedicated rack system? Any chance a rotary launcher could support a reduced number? Say, four more?
Probably could but then how many of these do you really want one bomber to carry? I guess that would depend upon the ultimate inventory but I really don't see them needing more than 4 or 6 in the short-medium term.
 

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If the AGM-183A is similar in size to the AGM-129 (ACM) which had a 29 inch diameter then it won't fit on the rotary launcher in the B-52's bomb bay. The ACM was noted as an external weapon only on that aircraft. The B-1B on the other hand had the ability to carry 4 ACM's internally and 14 (2 single pylons and 6 dual carriage one) externally. They never developed the 2 single external pylons due to treaty limitations. Assuming 6 single carry pylons and the internal 4 gives you at most 10 on the B-1B. A as noted above 4 - 6 makes sense for a load-out.

Gen. Ray of GSC mentioned in his interview with Dave Deptula that they would move the AGM-183A to the B-1B from the B-52. Got to be a reason but I have no clue.

 

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The Drive on the state of ARRW.
The U.S. Air Force plans to buy at least eight prototype AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapons, or ARRWs. This initial batch of these hypersonic missiles will support live-fire flight testing, set to begin in 2021, and could help give the service an early operational capability to employ the weapons a year later. However, there are risks of delays as the project is already a year behind schedule and has seen its total cost increase by almost 40 percent.
 

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Hopefully they're smart enough not to get into the, "OMG it's harder than we thought. We better cancel it because it will work out better next time." mindset.
 

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I'm a little disturbed that they are wrapping up HCSW this summer without test firing AGM-183 even once.
 

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They have insight into the program and we don't. They also have a stipulated budget the DOD has offered to them and must invest appropriately to get to a desired capability end state by a particular time. The FY21 budget is nearly flat. This has pushed them towards prioritization. Congress could always step in and restore the funding if it does not buy the AF's argument given they too would have access to a similar level of data/reports. With FY22 budget prospects not looking that great (flat or lower most likely) funding one through completion is probably a more wise strategy anyway. Even with more risk, the TBG based ARRW is probably a more useful weapon for the Air Force.
 

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It is undoubtedly the more advanced design with greater capability. Just hoping the flight testing goes well. Worst case, presumably HCSW could be dusted off next year if major problems arise. The glider is supposed to be from DARPA TBG - has that ever been flight tested?
 

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It is undoubtedly the more advanced design with greater capability. Just hoping the flight testing goes well. Worst case, presumably HCSW could be dusted off next year if major problems arise. The glider is supposed to be from DARPA TBG - has that ever been flight tested?
No, TBG hasn’t been flight tested yet, which is likely the main cause of delays for ARRW. Ironically DARPA who are famous for agile development are the main factor holding up the ARRW/TBG program...
 

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I'm a little disturbed that they are wrapping up HCSW this summer without test firing AGM-183 even once.
They can't afford to keep HCSW going on the chance ARRW fails, unless they want to delay ARRW further. Reminder that the gliding body HCSW would have used is still under development with the Navy and Army, so the opportunity exists for the Air Force to return to it later.
 

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I thought ARRW was a reworked HTV-2. That was flown twice. It terminated early in both but had enough data to confirm the aerodynamics/flight control seemed to work. I believe it was the thermal protection on the 2nd flight that caused problems.


 

sferrin

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I thought ARRW was a reworked HTV-2. That was flown twice. It terminated early in both but had enough data to confirm the aerodynamics/flight control seemed to work. I believe it was the thermal protection on the 2nd flight that caused problems.


No way. That thing was launched with a Peacekeeper ICBM (essentially).
 

fredymac

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No way. That thing was launched with a Peacekeeper ICBM (essentially).

If you read the April 2020 issue of Air Force magazine, there is an article starting on page 28 covering the various hypersonic projects. At the bottom of page 29 it says (paraphrasing):

The DARPA program, called Tactical Boost Glide was to serve as the basis for ARRW

The appearance of the ARRW and HTV-2 are pretty similar. I can believe the HTV-2 was bigger and needed a large booster but a scaled down version might still be the design base for ARRW.

HTV ARRW.jpg
 

sferrin

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I think some graphic designer took liberties with the copy/paste. A glider as small as that in the second picture doesn't have enough volume to hold much of anything.
 

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Is there a warhead on this or is it pure kinematics to destroy the target?
 

bring_it_on

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It is undoubtedly the more advanced design with greater capability. Just hoping the flight testing goes well. Worst case, presumably HCSW could be dusted off next year if major problems arise. The glider is supposed to be from DARPA TBG - has that ever been flight tested?
No it hasn't been flight tested, but the ARRW program will follow after TBG has been flight tested which should happen sometime in the short term. TBG also has a second vendor allowing the USAF to re-evaluate at a later date in terms of which BGV the prefer for the long term. So basically by keeping TBG and ARRW alive (USAF has funding for TBG as well as it was a joint USAF-DARPA effort) they are bringing three BGV's through flight demonstrations (C-HGV, TBG-LM, TBG-RTX). That is a better ROI for USAF and broader DOD R&D dollars than going all in on just one. At the end of the day they have to establish an acquisition program for the ARRW and then build some sort of acquisition program that right sizes the buy to make all this affordable.
 
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sferrin

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Is there a warhead on this or is it pure kinematics to destroy the target?
Wouldn't matter. The booster is only 30" dia. Makes the glider what. . .5" thick, maybe?
 

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If there is a warhead, I think it would only be a bursting charge to fragment the glider for soft targets. The diameter as noted above is ~31 inches/80cm; there couldn't be room for much more than a guidance, power source, and control surfaces.
 

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If there is a warhead, I think it would only be a bursting charge to fragment the glider for soft targets. The diameter as noted above is ~31 inches/80cm; there couldn't be room for much more than a guidance, power source, and control surfaces.
Er, Tomahawk is 52 cm in diameter and carry 450-kg wahread.
 

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If there is a warhead, I think it would only be a bursting charge to fragment the glider for soft targets. The diameter as noted above is ~31 inches/80cm; there couldn't be room for much more than a guidance, power source, and control surfaces.
Er, Tomahawk is 52 cm in diameter and carry 450-kg wahread.
The Tomahawk is also a one piece weapon basically with a small booster.

The AGM183 is mostly booster with a small missile part. That black arrow head on the end of the weapon.

That is the AGM183 kill vehicle, that is the part that flys off to do the work and ONLY THAT. The rest of it is basically a booster to get up to speed and attitude. Think more Saturn 5 set up, BIG OLD ROCKET, with an itty bitty tiny command and life support module. That little arrow head has all the eletrics, batteries, fuel, and the warhead to hit the target with.
 

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More over, not only is the terminal glider not very wide, the shaping of the projectile means it will be waffer thin. The conical glider the USN is developing will have much more room, but will be less aerodynamically efficient.
 

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Any warhead or kill capability will be based on the ARRWs target set which would have been defined by the USAF quite early on (when they put the T in TBG). That would also impact guidance and other trades.
 
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