Northrop Grumman [NOC] said on May 8 that the U.S. Navy conducted a recent test of the company’s AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER)–the “first firing overland against operationally representative modern air defense system targets.”

“The missile successfully detected, identified, located and engaged an advanced, land-based, emitter target,” Northrop Grumman said.

The recent test marks the fifth of six planned AARGM-ER developmental flight tests, as Northrop Grumman gears up to deliver AARGM-ER to the Navy later this year to achieve initial operational capability on the Boeing [BA] F/A-18E/F Super Hornet next year.

In addition to the Super Hornet, AARGM-ER is to go on the EA-18G Growler and the tri-variant

Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 fighter.

Of the recent test, Navy Capt. Alex Dutko, the service’s program manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), said in the Northrop Grumman statement that “AARGM-ER once again demonstrated high-speed employment of lethal effects against an air defense system target.”

“This is another successful step in our government-industry team’s effort to deliver this critically needed capability to our warfighters,” he said.

The Navy is also studying the conflict utility of having Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft equipped with AARGM-ER (Defense Daily, Apr. 3).

Dutko has said that AARGM-ER could augment the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile on the P-8.

In addition, the Navy has been exploring a land-launched option for the AARGM-ER (Defense Daily, Feb 15).

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.

Australia is to be the first international customer of AARGM-ER. In February, the State Department approved a potential $506 million sale of 63 AARGM-ERs and 20 AARGM-ER captive air training missiles for the Royal Australian Air Force (Defense Daily, March 1).

While the U.S. Air Force had looked upon its Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) as an outgrowth of AARGM-ER, competitors for SiAW now include not just Northrop Grumman, but Lockheed Martin and L3Harris Technologies [LHX].

Each SiAW, which the Lockheed Martin F-35A is to carry, would cost more than $1.5 million (Defense Daily, Aug. 26, 2022).

Air Force plans call for fielding 3,000 SiAWs at a cost of $8.6 billion but, due to the development timeline for SiAW, the Air Force is planning to procure AARGM-ERs as a fill-in until the service can field SiAW.