The Navy and Northrop Grumman [NOC] recently finished the fourth successful live fire flight test of the AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER), the company said on Dec. 8.
On Nov. 30, a Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet launched the missile and engaged an unspecified “operationally-representative, moving maritime target” at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California.
This test came months after Northrop Grumman announced the third successful AARGM-ER live fire test (Defense Daily, July 21).
The second live fire test occurred last January (Defense Daily, Feb. 15).
“AARGM-ER’s performance during testing continues to validate the missile’s ability to detect, identify, locate and effectively engage critical air-defense targets from an extended range,” Capt. Alex Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), said in a statement.
“This test proved the systems’ ability to engage moving maritime targets, a vital capability supporting our Navy’s ability to control sea lanes during conflict. Congratulations to the government/industry team for their continual focus on delivering this crucial capability to our warfighters,” he added.
While the base AARGM model is used to suppress enemy air defense systems, the AARGM-ER model includes improvements to extend the missile’s range, survivability and effectiveness against mobile and more advanced surface-to-air missile launchers.
The AARGM-ER has a new solid rocket motor, warhead and tail control fins.
The company is on contract to deliver production units of AARGM-ERs to the Navy in support of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) fielding within two years. The Defense Department will integrate the missiles onto its Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and F-35s.
“AARGM-ER continues to demonstrate the ability to affordably meet mission requirements and safeguard those protecting our country,” Gordon Turner, vice president for advanced weapons at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement.
Last year, the Navy authorized AARGM-ER for Milestone C, setting it up for transitioning into low-rate initial production (LRIP). Northrop Grumman won the first engineering and manufacturing development contract for the missile in 2019 (Defense Daily, Sept. 2, 2021).
The company is currently in production on LRIP AARGM-ER missiles and has received production contracts for LRIP Lots 1 and 2.
In April, Capt. A.C. Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), said the Navy expected to finish operational testing of the missile in 2023, with IOC expected in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023, to be followed by full-rate production in FY ‘25 (Defense Daily, April 4).