The US Navy approved the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) for production after being cleared by the Milestone C review.
The navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production lots of the Northrop Grumman-manufactured missiles “over the next several months,” the service revealed.
The decision comes more than two years after the navy awarded the Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract to Northrop Grumman.
Initial Operational Capability By 2023
In July, the navy live-tested the missile for the first time. The test-launch from an F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft verified “system integration and rocket motor performance, as well as initiated modeling and simulation validation,” the service stated.
The service revealed that the missile’s “captive and live-fire flight testing” will continue through 2022. “Initial operational capability is planned for 2023.”
Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager Capt. Alex Dutko said, “The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone.”
“We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible.”
Upgraded Propulsion and Warhead
Northrop Grumman explained that the missile leverages its predecessor, the AARGM, providing a technological upgrade. The manufacturer earlier revealed that the upgraded missile would have a new rocket engine and warhead.
The AARGM-ER passed a critical design review last year following “successful design verification tests of key components.”
The projectile successfully demonstrated its propulsion and warhead capacity during the design verification tests.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a $165 million contract in March last year for the full-rate production of the AARGM, a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile system that marks an upgrade over the AGM-88 HARM (Anti-to-Ground High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) in service since 1985.
“AARGM provides the critical ability to detect and defeat surface-to-air-threats enabling the penetration of adversary anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) domains required by US warfighters and allies,” Northrop Grumman stated.
The missile is deployed on both the navy’s F/A-18s — the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler — and the US Air Force F-35A, Marine Corps F-35B, and Navy and Marine Corps F-35C.