July 30 (UPI) -- In a test of a hypersonic booster rocket, a test rocket was successfully released from a B-52H bomber but failed to ignite, the U.S. Air Force said this week.
The test of the rocket propelling the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon was its second, and occurred on Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
An Air Force statement on Thursday said that the booster test rocket, identified as BTV-1b, was released over the Point Mugu Sea Range.
While the missile separated from the airplane carrying it, and demonstrated its capability to quickly acquire GPS capability and disconnect and transfer power from the aircraft to the missile, the rocket motor did not ignite.
"Developing first-of-its-kind missiles is difficult business and this why we test," Brig. Gen. Heath Collins, the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, said in the Air Force statement.
"This is a critical capability for our Air Force and we have the very best team working to figure out what happened, fix it and move out to deliver ARRW to our warfighters as quickly as possible," Collins said.
The ARRW program's mission is to bring reliability to the ARRW, designed to deliver a nuclear warhead at up to five times the speed of sound.
Hypersonic weapons can evade traditional missile defense systems, in addition to their unprecedented speed, and additional development efforts include defensive measures against an enemy's hypersonic capabilities.
Russia, China and the United States are all racing to deploy the missiles.
"The program continues to track toward fielding a hypersonic capability in the early 2020s," the Air Force statement on Thursday added.
Three weeks ago a prototype hypersonic missile warhead was successfully detonated for the first time in a ground test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.