The U.S. Navy recently announced its first live-fire test of the new AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range, or AARGM-ER. A Naval Air Systems Command press release states that the missile was launched from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and met all of the objectives set for this test. The new AARGM-ER is intended to give the service’s carrier air wings the ability to more safely operate in areas containing integrated defense networks, but its capabilities could make it a formidable all-around air-to-surface weapon featuring advanced guidance technologies.
The test took place on July 19, 2021 off the coast of the Point Mugu Sea Test Range, according to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Captain Alex Dutko, program manager for NAVAIR’s Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapon (PMA-242), said the test represents “a major step to providing our fleet with the most advanced weapon system to defeat evolving surface-to-air threats.” The test reportedly validated overall systems integration and the missile’s propulsion system, and confirmed some of the simulations run on the missile prior to the live-fire test.
NAVAIR stated that this is only the first in a planned series of tests to confirm other objectives. A PMA-242 program co-lead stated that the missile, which is designed to provide an “advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems,” is now expected to meet Low Rate Initial Production this summer.
Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for the AGM-88G, issued its own press release saying that the live-fire test took place three months earlier than expected and demonstrated the “long-range capability of the new missile design.” The AARGM-ER is a derivative of the AGM-88E AARGM, which already offered “expanded target set, counter-shutdown capability, advanced signals processing for improved detection and locating, geographic specificity providing aircrew the opportunity to define missile-impact zones and impact-avoidance zones, and a weapon impact-assessment broadcast capability providing for battle damage assessment cueing” compared to earlier variants of the AGM-88, according to the Navy.
“While this event serves as a validation of this hard work, it more importantly gets us one-step closer to making our fleet more lethal,” said Felipe Jauregui, Anti-Radiation Missile Technical Project Office at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, California. “Our engineering and test teams have worked tirelessly with their counterparts across the enterprise and government teams.”