The Navy last month successfully completed the second flight test of the Northrop Grumman [NOC] AGM-88 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER).

In the test, the Navy launched an AARGM-ER from an F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet on Jan. 21 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of California. The company disclosed the test on Feb. 7 and said the missile performed an extended range profile that engaged with a land-based emitter target staged at the range on San Nicholas island.

While the original AARGM is used to suppress enemy air defense systems, the AARGM-ER features improvements and modifications that extend the range, survivability and effectiveness of the missile.

“This second flight test verified AARGM-ER’s ability to detect, identify, locate and engage a land-based air defense radar system from an extended range,” Capt. A.C. Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242), said in a statement.

“Through the exceptional efforts of our government/industry team, we are another step closer to delivering capability to suppress the most advanced adversary air-defense systems without putting our warfighters in danger,” he continued.

“AARGM-ER provides the U.S. Navy with the capability to stay ahead of evolving threats. This flight test further demonstrated the critical capability of AARGM-ER to precisely engage long-range threats, while enabling launching aircrew to remain at a safe distance,” Mary Petryszyn, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems, added.

Last September, the Navy authorized the program for Milestone C, allowing it to transition into low-rate initial production (LRIP) over two years after Northrop Grumman won the engineering and manufacturing development contract to develop the weapon (Defense Daily, Sept. 2, 2021).

The company said since the Milestone decision it has continued developing the missile. It is currently under contract to deliver ASRGM-ER production units to support a planned 2023 initial operational capability (IOC) fielding. The Navy previously said it will continue conducting live fire tests through 2022, leading into IOC. 

Last December, Northrop Grumman won a $45.6 million contract for the second lot of AARGM-ER LRIP units consisting of 16 all-up rounds and six captive air training missiles. 

AARGM-ER is being integrated onto the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and the F-35A/B/C Joint Strike Fighter.