Northrop Grumman is the US Navy prime contractor responsible for the conversion of AGM-88B/C High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles into the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). AARGM is a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile system, upgrading legacy AGM-88 HARM systems with advanced capability to perform destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD) missions.
Northrop Grumman replaces the Guidance Section and Control Section of the missile with new hardware. This new hardware includes an advanced digital anti-radiation homing (ARH) sensor, millimeter wave (MMW)-radar terminal seeker, precise Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation System (INS) guidance and net-centric connectivity. The existing AGM-88 B/C warhead, rocket motor and airframe are reused.
AARGM provides the most advanced system to counter today’s modern surface-to-air threats. AARGM provides pilots, with in-cockpit, real-time electronic order of battle situational awareness against. It is able to rapidly engage traditional and non-traditional advanced land- and sea-based air-defense threats, as well as striking, time-sensitive targets.
AARGM is a U.S. Navy and Italian Air Force international cooperative major acquisition program with the U.S. Navy as the executive agent. AARGM achieved Initial Operational Capability in July 2012, was approved by the Navy for Full Rate Production (FRP) in September 2012 and is currently in Lot 6 full rate production with an anticipated option for production Lot 7 later this year. Last year, Block 1, a software-only upgrade to fielded weapons, was rolled out to the fleet and implemented several refinements to the algorithms. Current deliveries incorporate the Block 1 configuration addressing the changing threat environment.
AARGM is currently deployed and supporting operational requirements for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The missile is integrated into the weapons system on the F/A-18C/D Hornet, FA-18E/F Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler aircraft. Earlier this year, the Italian Air Force (ItAF) successfully finished the integration of AARGM on their Tornado-ECR aircraft. The completion of the operational test and evaluation program, at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, resulted in Initial Operational Capability on the platform.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was the first foreign customer of AARGM. Additional potential partner countries continue to express interest in the missile including a recent Letter of Offer and Acceptance from Germany.
Northrop Grumman and the USN’s next longer-term program effort is the ARRGM Extended Range (ER) variant. Orbital ATK is on contract with the U.S. Navy for the missile section integration that will lead to the preliminary design for the EMD phase of the program.
Utilizing a modular design, Northrop Grumman will upgrade the legacy rocket motor with options for a new warhead while reusing the AARGM guidance section and control section electronics. The USN anticipates integrating AARGM-ER on the EA-G Growler and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, with form-fit compatibility for the F-35 A and C models.