back to article Lockheed's ARRW hypersonic missile: Sometimes it flies, sometimes it just tries

A deal's a deal. Despite canning Lockheed Martin's hypersonic weapon program over repeat failures, the US Air Force is still flying planned tests of the platform – including one over the weekend that the Air Force isn't giving many details on. The Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, is Lockheed's experimental …

  1. Kev99 Silver badge

    Once more the US military wants ot reinvent the wheel. Wouldn't it be cheaper, faster and easier to just put a modern guidance system on the old Nike Zeus B (8,000 MPH, 250 mile range)?

    1. AbnormalChunks

      Nike Zeus was a 50s tech Anti Ballistic Missile system, a 250 mile range isn't useful. Designing something to air breathe and/or glide controllabily at Mach 5+ is seriously difficult.

      Other states may well have built these types of weapons but just how well do they actually work?

      There's been reports that Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles have been shot down in Ukraine suggesting they're not as effective as once thought.

      Strapping on a bigger booster isn't going to work!

    2. jmch Silver badge

      A quick Wiki on the subject* indicates this had a maximum velocity of "greater than Mach 4 / 3000 mph", so slower than desired here since the. target is Mach 5. It also seems that the desired end product is a smaller portable missile**, while the Zeus is huge and silo-launched.

      *usual caveats on the accuracy but Wikipedia is usually fairly good with this sort of information

      **one can make one's own conclusions about whether this is intended as an offensive or defensive weapon, but the US's concept of 'defense' seems to be 'if we're the boss of the world, no one will be able to attack us' rather than 'if anyone attacks us we are capable of defending ourselves'

    3. Ken G Silver badge

      or arm the X-43

      except it's the "modern guidance system" that seems to be the problem.

  2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Meanwhile the US will continue for the foreseeable future to have its sorry military ass whupped by angry men in sandals. Remember, they have lost every war they fought since WW2, with the exception of Grenada.

    1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      1991 liberation of Kuwait is generally thought to have been an Allied (& therefore US) victory.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Well, that's 1 win I guess!

        They got majorly whupped in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Otherwise, "lost every war they fought since WW2" seems a bit harsh from a military POV, as they have scored a few other military victories. The problem is that most of these were simply poking their noses into areas where they thoroughly misjudged the situation, and a lot of these military 'victories' actually ended up back at the status quo (or even worse than before) soon after. See Iraq 2 & Libya

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        That would be the one where they turned back before finishing the job in Iraq. Won the battle, lost - or ran away from - the war.

    2. ChrisC Silver badge

      How much of that track record is down to the true effectiveness of their armed forces, and how much of it is down to having to cope with the artificial restrictions placed on them in each of those wars?

      We've never seen (and I hope we never have to) what the US military is truly capable of if the gloves come all the way off (or even if the nuclear gauntlet remains firmly attached and they rely solely on their conventional forces) and they're left to fight the war as they see fit, but I very much suspect that in such a scenario, they'd do rather better against any adversary than your assessment of their abilities might suggest.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        We've never seen (and I hope we never have to) what the US military is truly capable of if the gloves come all the way off

        They are excellent at indiscriminate slaughter and could do it even more effectively if they tried harder but their - and, I would suggest, your - mistake is in assuming that they would thereby win. They wouldn't.

    3. BillyMunny

      The unfavorable outcomes you allude to are not about weapons systems or ability to kill, but are political. The USA's knack for indiscriminate killing (more this than destruction of property) had the effect of alienating and enraging the populations where they went to fight. Nobody cares about new schools or roads, or a new government when the people are being killed and opportunists are getting rich.

      The only reason those "angry men in sandals" are still alive is no one from the US / coalition saw further benefit to expending weapons on them. At some point, shooting them is just wasting ammo. Nothing personal - it's just business.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        The only reason those "angry men in sandals" are still alive is no one from the US / coalition saw further benefit to expending weapons on them. At some point, shooting them is just wasting ammo. Nothing personal - it's just business.

        Which is more-or-less my point. Killing more people isn't the same as winning wars. The US is very good indeed at killing people and very bad indeed at winning wars. Possibly because all they try to do is kill people, and not win wars.

  3. Johnb89

    One is reminded of the 'missile gap*'

    Just because They have a whatever technology thingy, does that mean We are at a desperate disadvantage because we don't have that exact kind of thingy?

    Surely not.

    *the real JFK-era one, not just the Dr. Strangelove version

  4. Ken G Silver badge

    For fans of the West Wing

    There was a debate about funding for a missile on one episode which had never hit it's target. The chief of staff OK'd the budget allocation for the programme, partly to appease the party member whose state the developer was based in but also because "in the history of everything that works, there was a time when it didn't".

  5. BillyMunny

    Hypersonics is like Reagan's "Star Wars" but a SinoRussian Game Directed at the USA

    When you see these tales of test, failures, and successes, always bear in mind that these new weapons are deep into the region of diminishing returns. Ronald Reagan bluffed the Soviet Union with the Strategic Defense Initiative / "Star Wars" in the 1980s. Its effect was to make the Soviets work on impossible projects and chase their tails, when more cheap and plentiful weapons could simply have been upgraded to remain effective tools of war.

    Hypersonic weapons are the same exhausting game, but being used by Russia and China against the USA. Every team of scientists and every billion dollars devoted to the hypersonic weapons race is not making improvements to weapons like ramjet artillery, HIMARS, or the Rapid Dragon system. Those three things I just mentioned are deadly, and what keep Xi, Putin, and the DPRK Rocket Man awake at night.

    Shiny things distract from useful things...

  6. EricB123 Silver badge

    Here We Go Again

    The US military is a lot like the US health care system. Spends more money that any other country on Earth, yet only achieves mediocre results. Assuming reports that China and Russia both have far more successful hyper-sonic programs are correct.

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