US Tests New Hypersonic Missile That Can Zoom At Mach 7; But How Does It Compare With Russian Avangard & Kinzhal Missiles?

After the successful tests of the Russian Zircon, Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, the United States has been threatened of losing its global dominance.

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With the Chinese coming up with similar new technologies and India too racing forward in the game with its Shaurya and HSTDV, a senior USAF official has revealed that the American hypersonic missile would be able to achieve the speeds of Mach 7.5.

The AGM-183 “Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon” or abbreviated as “ARRW”, is said to be the American answer to Moscow’s Kh-47M2 Kinzhal.

With comparable physical characteristics, the newly-claimed speed of the ARRW still falls far shorter than the Russian counterpart, which is claimed to achieve speeds exceeding Mach 10, about 30% faster and double the range.

According to The Drive, the U.S. Air Force is set to purchase at least 8 of these new hypersonic missile prototypes, however, the official induction might take a few more years.

Currently, the ARRW has not even been test-fired and is undergoing captive flight trials (when the missile is not fired but attached to the pylons to test aerodynamics and structural strength) since June 2019 on the B-52 bomber, which is set to be its primary launch platform while discussions are underway to integrate it onto the B-1B Lancers as well.

A new report by the U.S. congressional watchdog GAO (Government Accountability Office) stated, “Program officials stated that they plan to deliver eight hypersonic missiles: four to conduct flight tests and four spares.”

“Specifically, [the] ARRW [program] plans to develop an operational prototype with a solid-fuel booster, ordnance package, and specialized equipment to enable it to be carried on the B-52H.”

“According to program officials, the program will build knowledge through the flight and operational testing of prototype units, as well as potentially provide an operational capability from the deployment of any remaining spare test units.”

File Image: Avangard Missile-Russia

The devices capable of achieving speeds more than Mach 5 are considered Hypersonic. These hypersonic missiles make the air defence systems useless. With the addition of evasive manoeuvres along with hypersonic speeds, these missiles are virtually immune to any existing hard-kill air defence system in the world.

Russia has successfully added not one, but three hypersonic vehicles in its arsenal, which include the Zircon (tested recently), Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, and the Avangard. The latter is a hypersonic glide vehicle which can carry MIRV payloads.

At the time of its [Avangard’s] testing in December 2018, it was claimed that speeds exceeding Mach 27 were achieved.