When will the AGM-183A supersonic missile be operational?

The US AGM-183A hypersonic missile failed three times in a row, foreshadowing that the US hypersonic weapons program would be difficult to succeed.

On December 17, 2021, the United States Air Force’s third test of the AGM-183A hypersonic missile ended in failure, bringing disappointment to experts and even congressmen.

The US Air Force’s attempt to successfully test-launch a supersonic missile AGM-183A in 2021 can be said to have failed. The US Air Force is likely to conduct other tests this year.

the US Air Force confirmed that on December 15, 2021, the test of a new hypersonic missile AGM-183A failed. The US Air Force said it has yet to determine the cause of the failed test.

The AGM-183A uses glider-assisted missile technology and uses solid-fuel rockets for acceleration. After reaching a certain speed, the rocket’s head will open, leaving the rod inside to accelerate, separating from the parent rocket, without leaving the earth’s atmosphere.

The highest speed of the AGM-183A missile can reach 20 Mach, the maximum range is 1,600 km (other information is Mach 10, the maximum range is 1,000 km).

The US Air Force hopes that, in the future, the number of F-15EX fighters, B-52H, B-1B, B-2 and B-21 types still in development, can use this powerful missile, to hit the enemy and high-value targets; especially time-sensitive targets.

However, the warhead AGM-183A is relatively small, according to information, its heaviest warhead weight is only 50 kg and the lightest is 22 kg (the latest information is about 68 kg). To increase the effectiveness of the warhead, the US Air Force has adopted a “chase and destroy” design, similar to the Patriot 3 air defense missile.

According to the information, this is the third failed test of the AGM-183A hypersonic missile after the April and July 2021 tests. During the test launch in April 2021, the test missile was not able to separate from the B-52H bomber

The US Air Force (and even the US), sees the AGM-183A as a “competitive weapon” and wants to show that it is not behind China and Russia (now North Korea must be added). But now three tests, all failed.

The first test launch was at the end of December 2020, and US Air Force officials were confident that the test will be over before 2020. However, an incident occurred during the test and the test was forced to be cancelled.

The second test launch was also cancelled in early 2021. The specific situation is unknown, only information from the US Air Force stated that “The launch sequence was aborted before release with an unknown issue. The missile will return to the factory and analysis of the telemetry and onboard data will begin immediately. The program will seek to resume flight test as quickly as possible.”

On July 28, 2021, the US Air Force conducted the 4th test, ie the second test was unsuccessful. This time the test missile successfully separated from the B-52 bomber, but its rocket engine failed and crashed into the waters of Cape Mugu.

This incident greatly affected the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin. Both the US Air Force and the US government are disappointed with the AGM-183A. The hope of deploying US hypersonic weapons in the “next one to two years” is unlikely to come true.

The US news site Drive reported that the failure of three consecutive AGM-183A test launches is worrying. With such setbacks, procurement in 2022 could be postponed, a US Air Force official said.

According to some information from the US media, the US military has affirmed that hypersonic weapons are the key to future combat plans; especially in potential conflicts with similar adversaries such as China and Russia.

But, currently, in the field of hypersonic weapons, the US is still inferior to two rivals Russia and China. Currently, Russia has all kinds of hypersonic weapons in three areas: land, sea, and air.

Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine “Severodvinsk” successfully test-fired a Zircon hypersonic missile for the first time, reaching a speed of 10,734 km/h, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on October 4, 2021.

After launch, the missile hit a simulated target in the Barents Sea. As noted by the observation and control system, the Zircon missile hit the target and its flight path followed the established parameters. Zircon will enter service this year and will be deployed for the first time on the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” of the Russian Navy.

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