Weapons

US Navy completes first AARGM-ER missile captive carry flight on F/A-18 Super Hornet

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. 

On Jun.1, 2020 at the Patuxent River test range the US Navy completed 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

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate 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.

“This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase,” said Capt. Mitch Commerford, who oversees the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242), in NAVAIR news release. “Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER.”

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

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The extended range variant, which leverages the AARGM program that’s currently in full rate production, has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead. It will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems. 

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G, and will also be compatible for integration on the F-35A/B/C. 

The original AGM-88E AARGM is a medium-range air-to-ground missile employed for Suppression and/or Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD). An ACAT IC Cooperative program with the Italian Air Force, the AARGM system is an upgrade and compliment to the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).

AARGM baseline capabilities include an 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.

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Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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