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US Showcases B-52 “Stratofortress” Bomber Carrying Hypersonic Missiles in Guam

The hypersonic missile observed mounted on the American B-52 strategic bomber at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam has been identified as the "AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon" (ARRW).

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Recently, the United States Air Force (USAF) released images of the strategic bomber aircraft B-52 Stratofortress equipped with “live” hypersonic missiles at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

Guam hosts a strategic U.S. military base in the Indo-Pacific region.

 The hypersonic missiles seen mounted on the American B-52 strategic bomber are identified as the “AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon” (ARRW).

The distribution of these hypersonic missile images, referred to as “ARRW,” occurred during a familiarization exercise with the missile for members of the military stationed at the strategic air base.

 In one of the disseminated images, the serial number of the hypersonic missile, AUR-005, is clearly visible.

The AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missile is an air-to-ground or “Hypersonic Glide Vehicle” (HGV) utilized by the USAF, equipped with a conventional explosive warhead rather than a nuclear one.

Hypersonik
American military personnel were briefed on the AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missiles carried by B-52 bombers in Guam. (USAF)

 

Despite the images released by the USAF showing the B-52 bomber carrying the hypersonic missile, it is actually designed to be deployed by other bombers such as the B-1B Lancer, B-21 Raider, and the F-15E fighter aircraft.

Developed by the defense firm Lockheed Martin, the hypersonic missile is capable of gliding at speeds exceeding Mach 5, with future plans suggesting it could reach speeds between Mach 7 and Mach 8.

The AGM-183 ARRW missile is designed to strike targets up to 1,500km away.

Although the USAF has disseminated images of the B-52 bomber carrying the AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missile, the development program for the missile is said to have been canceled following failures in several of its test series.

 However, the release of images by the USAF showing the presence of the AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missile aboard the strategic B-52 bomber in Guam indicates that the hypersonic missile development program is proceeding smoothly.

The development program for the AGM-183 ARRW hypersonic missile was initiated in 2018 through a funding allocation of US$480 million (RM2.16 billion) granted to Lockheed Martin by the USAF.

Hypersonik

Guam, a U.S. territory located in the western Pacific Ocean approximately 9,300km west of San Francisco, spans just 200 square miles.

Despite its small size, Guam is described as highly active militarily, housing U.S. military personnel from all branches: air, land, sea, and submarine.

With escalating tensions between the United States and China, Guam could potentially become a primary target for Beijing if an armed conflict between the two superpowers were to erupt.

Although located in the Pacific Ocean, there is a possibility that Guam could be targeted by ballistic missiles from “adversaries” should warfare occur in the Pacific.

The USAF’s main presence in Guam is at Andersen Air Force Base, which is home to 193 military aircraft. The U.S. military uses the air base in Guam to launch aircraft for regional operations.

B-52
B-52 “Stratofortress”

 

Andersen Air Force Base does not have a permanent aircraft deployment but hosts various U.S. military bombers, such as the B-1 Lancer and B-52, on a rotational basis.

In addition to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam also hosts the Apra Harbor Naval Base, which accommodates five U.S. nuclear submarines of the Los Angeles class.

Since 1991, Beijing has observed how the United States uses its overseas military bases to support its war campaigns in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and others.

Should China attack Taiwan or Japan, both countries guaranteed security by the United States, Guam would become Washington’s most crucial military hub for defending these nations.

The scenario of Guam being attacked is not unprecedented, as a two-minute promotional video released by the Chinese military in 2020 showcased its bombers dropping bombs on an airbase resembling Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. — DSA

(READ MORE ON GUAM)

 

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