According to field sources, the United States has tested a hypersonic missile which can be launched from the air. The US AGM-183A has completed its first tests which were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Following the tests, the US did not release data on the strength of the explosion as well as the degree of destruction the AGM-183A missile caused.
The AGM-183A missile, dubbed the Lethality Enhanced Ordnance [LEO] was developed by Northrup Grumman in 2018. The team that worked on the LEO technology, has joined Lockheed Martin. This was three years ago.
Lockheed Martin won the US government contract to develop the AGM-183A missile.
“LEO is a fairly generic technology: PBXN-110 explosive fill and fragmentation layer,” said Pat Nolan, the Vice President and General Manager of Northrop Grumman’s Missile Products division, in 2018 following the initial test of the warhead. “It’s how we array those fragments that determine the desired effects.”
Another reason why observers think the Lethality Enhanced Ordnance is a hypersonic warhead is that the detonation method used by Portroup Grumman has undergone changes following successful attempts over the past three years, over which the company had collected a large amount of data from them.
Observers contend, if the LEO technology was in fact used in the warhead blast test, the military most likely used a polymer-bonded explosive with 88% HMX content, called octogen, which is a powerful and relatively insensitive nitroamine high explosive. This composition is precisely the explosive PBXN-110, mentioned above by Pat Nolan.
While the Americans have high hopes on the AGM-183A ARRW missile, there is no official confirmation that the speed of the missile will be in the range between 6.5 and 8 Mach. Which means within 12 minutes the AGM-183A missile can travel 1,600 kilometers, and could potentially reach Moscow in 20 minutes, or Beijing in 30 minutes.
Naturally, this is a mathematical calculation based on the carrier of the hypersonic rocket, which typically is a B-52H Stratofortress. If the carrier is changed, the data will undergo change.
Incidentally, during initial testing of the AGM-183A on a B-52H Stratofortress bomber, it was not possible to go through the launch sequence of the hypersonic missile, for the reason that the US Air Force did not specify. The B-52H had then safely returned the carrier plane to Edwards Air Force Base.
“The ARRW program has been pushing the boundaries since its inception, and calculated risks are being taken to advance this important capability. Although this failure is disappointing, this trial has provided us with invaluable information that will allow us to learn lessons to continue moving forward,” saidGeneral Heath Collins, the project manager.
The testing of the AGM-183A began in June 2019, with a first captive flight performed by a B-52H, since then, six other tests have been carried out successfully.