The Navy and Northrop Grumman [NOC] completed the third successful live fire test of the AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER), the company announced July 21.

The Navy launched the missile from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of California. The company said the missile used its advanced emitter acquisition system to detect a land-based threat and “engaged the threat system.”

This comes after Northrop Grumman and the Navy completed the second live fire test in January (Defense Daily, Feb. 15).

The base model AARGM is used to suppress enemy air defense systems, while the AARGM-ER has improvements that seek to extend its range, survivability and effectiveness against more advanced and mobile surface-to-air missile launchers.. The Navy will integrate the AARGM-ER onto its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and F-35s.

Northrop Grumman’s AARGM-ER missile check fit in the F-35 weapons bay. Photo: Northrop Grumman

The AARGM-ER includes a new solid rocket motor, new warhead and tail control fins with a control actuator system compared to the older missile’s mid-body control.

The Navy authorized the AARGM-ER program for Milestone C last September, setting the stage for it to transition into low-rate initial production (LRIP). Northrop Grumman first won the engineering and manufacturing development contract for the AARGM-ER in 2019 (Defense Daily, Sept. 2, 2021).

The Navy previously said it was continuing live fire tests of the missile through 2022, leading to initial operational capability (IOC) fielding, planned in 2023.

“The Navy requirement for AARGM-ER is now. AARGM-ER performed as expected and detected, identified, located and engaged a land-based air defense radar system. The continued success of our developmental testing moves the program closer to fielding,” Captain A.C. Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), said in a statement.

LRIP Lot 1 AARGM-ER missiles are currently in production by Northrop Grumman.

The Lot 1 missiles will be followed by LRIP Lot 2 units, consisting of 16 all-up rounds and six captive air training missiles . The Navy awarded the company a $45.6 million Lot 2 contract last December.

“Northrop Grumman is focused on delivering AARGM-ER capability to the U.S. Navy on-time to meet a critical warfighting need. We understand the requirement and we have the experience and know-how as a missile prime to deliver this time critical asset on an accelerated schedule,” Mary Petryszyn, president of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems, said in a statement.

In April, Doug Larratt, Northrop Grumman’s AARGM-ER program director said Northrop Grumman has delivered “well over 1,400” AARGM all up rounds and spares to the Navy.

At the same event, the Navy’s Dutko said the service expects to enter into and finish operational testing of the AARGM-ER in fiscal year 2023, with IOC expected in the fourth quarter of FY ‘ 23, followed by full rate production in FY ’25 (Defense Daily, April 4).