Northrop Grumman Reaches Critical Design Milestone for AARGM-ER Missile

Northrop Grumman recently completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) following successful design verification tests of key components for the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) program.

According to the company, design verification tests of the AARGM-ER rocket motor and warhead along with the CDR verified subsystem and system-level performance were conducted. The design verification tests of the rocket motor were conducted at extreme cold and hot temperature conditions and successfully demonstrated required propulsion performance. Testing of the warhead successfully demonstrated lethality performance.

“Rocket motor design verification tests represented a significant knowledge point and milestone for engineering and manufacturing development”, said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. “These tests were important to informing the critical design review and verifying performance of the missile. With our government partners, we are aggressively focused on achieving ‘speed to fleet’ while holding to program cost objectives.”

The AGM-88G AARGM-ER is an extended-range variant of the AGM-88E AARGM. The AARGM, currently in Full Rate Production (FRP), is a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile system that upgrades legacy AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) systems with advanced capability to perform Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD) and Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) missions.

Rendering of an AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER). Northrop Grumman Photo.

The developmental contract for the AARGM-ER upgrade was awarded to Orbital ATK in January 2018. Orbital ATK was then acquired by Northrop Grumman.

The AARGM-ER incorporates additional upgrades to improve operational capability including extended range and survivability. The AARGM-ER integrates existing AGM-88E AARGM sensors and electronics with an upgraded rocket motor, tail control system and warhead.

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, and will also be compatible for integration (internal carriage) on the new F-35A/B/C Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

The U.S. Navy recently completed the first captive carry flight test of the AARGM-ER missile on an F/A-18 aircraft on at the Patuxent River test range.

AARGM-ER Missile Captive Carry Flight on Super Hornet
The Navy conducts the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River test range in Maryland. (U.S. Navy photo)

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate the integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. Test points were completed across a range of flight conditions to demonstrate carriage compatibility of AARGM-ER with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Testing will continue over the next few years in preparation for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023.

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