The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Northrop Grumman a $323 million contract on Thursday for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER).

The AARGM is a joint U.S. Navy-Italian Air Force international cooperative acquisition program to upgrade the legacy Raytheon [RTN] AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) HARM) system. The AARGM targets land and sea-based radar air defense system.

Orbital ATK’s AARGM-ER missile check fit in the F-35 weapons bay. (Photo: Orbital ATK)

Orbital ATK, which is now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, is the prime contractor for the AARGM variants. AARGM-ER in turn extends the missile’s range and survivability.

The EMD contract covers the design, integration, and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER. The Navy plans to equip the missile on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers as a threshold capacity, and fit inside the internal carriage of F-35s.

The vast majority of the work will occur in Northridge, Calif., and is expected to be finished by December 2023.

Last year, Capt. Matthew Commerford, program manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons (PMA-242), and Gordon Turner, then-Orbital ATK vice president of programs and business development for defense electronic systems, said they expect the program to enter EMD by the first quarter of FY ’19 (Defense Daily, April 9, 2018 ).

At the time, Turney said the company was in source selection for the missile and was looking at several suppliers that had their own approaches for the requirements. The requirements seek mature designs, so novel solutions to reach requirements of increased range and survivability are unlikely.

The officials were previously unwilling to discuss whether the AAARGM-ER would add volume to the propellant section of the missile or use a different propellant.

AARGM-ER’s design is adding volume to the motor because it is removing parts like the main body control aviation assembly.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman are hoping to reach initial operating capability (IOC) in 2023.