The U.S. Navy is studying the conflict utility of having Boeing [BA] P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft equipped with the Northrop Grumman [NOC] AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER).

“Interestingly enough, there’s some interest for evaluation of the utility of the weapon from a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft,” Navy Capt. Alex Dutko, program manager for the direct and time sensitive strike program office (PMA-242), said during an Apr. 3 briefing at the Sea-Air-Space conference at National Harbor, Md. “Right now, we have a study going on to see if it makes a difference for the warfighter to carry this weapon.”

Dutko said that AARGM-ER could “augment LRASM [Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile] integration” on the P-8. Lockheed Martin [LMT] builds the AGM-158C LRASM.

Thus far, the Navy has conducted four of six AARGM-ER developmental flight tests and plans to finish the remaining two in the coming months.

“We’ve knocked out four of our six planned developmental test shots and would have been done with five, but who would have guessed snow in California this time of year?” Dutko said. “That’s what prevented us from executing last month. We should knock our last two developmental test shots in the next couple months.”

The Navy is negotiating with Northrop Grumman on a third lot contract for LRIP.

AARGM-ER is to have initial operational capability on the F/A-18E/F by the end of the year or early next year.

The Navy has been exploring a land-launched option for the AARGM-ER and whether the P-8 Poseidon should carry the missile (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. The missile is to be carried by Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the EA-18G Growler, and the tri-service F-35s by Lockheed Martin.

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.