F-35 will carry solid rocket-ramjet AARGM-ER: INS/GPS, 250km range

WARSAW, ($1=4.33 Polish Zlotys) — The United States is in talks to make the new generation of AARGM-ER anti-radiation missiles available to several users of stealthy F-35 fighters, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Defence 24.

F-35 will carry solid rocket-ramjet AARGM-ER: INS/GPS, 250km range
Photo credit: USAF

New information about the AARGM-ER anti-radiation missile program was presented at the Sea-Air-Space conference in the United States in early April. This missile is a development of the AGM-88E AARGM missile, which is currently operated by the US Navy, the Italian and Australian Air Forces цand also ordered by Germany;.

During a briefing by Commander Alex Dutko of the NAVAIR Combined Air Command and a representative of Northrop Grumman, it was recalled that AARGM-ER was created using new electronic systems introduced in the AARGM missile, including a multisensor guidance system, with a passive digital guidance head, active millimeter radar, INS/GPS system and the introduction of a new projectile structure, ensuring a significant increase in range and speed, as well as maneuverability [and thus – survival] of the missile.

In the United States, this was considered necessary due to the development of threats from the air defense systems of potential enemies, including increasing the range of fire. In addition to e-war measures, anti-radiation missiles play a key role because they can detect and destroy enemy air defense radars based on their electromagnetic emissions.

Although this information was not provided during the briefing, earlier reports estimated that the range of the missile could be approximately 250 km. Another feature is the ability to carry fifth-generation fighters in internal weapons chambers: F-35A [used by the US Air Force] and F-35C [used by the Navy, the main user of AARGM / AARGM-ER]. However, the AARGM-ER will also be integrated with F-35B short-haul and vertical landing fighters belonging to the Marines, the latter of which will carry the AARGM on external slings.

F-35 will carry solid rocket-ramjet AARGM-ER: INS/GPS, 250km range AGM-88 HARM
Photo credit: Wikipedia

In response to a question from a journalist, Commander Dutko confirmed that the US Air Force plans to purchase a certain batch of AARGM-ER for its F-35A. They will therefore become the third branch of the US military to use AARGM missiles [after the Navy and Marine Corps].

However, the first carriers of AARGM-ER will be Super Hornet and Growler fighters belonging to the fleet. The missile entered the production and deployment phase in the second half of 2021, and in 2023 these fighters must reach initial operational readiness. Two test shots have already been fired and more are planned.

In turn, in 2025 it is planned to move to full-scale serial production of the AARGM-ER rocket [Full Rate Production]. This paves the way for the purchase of these missiles in the standard regime for foreign military sales, ie purchase by the US government. In the past, acquiring them in this way would be possible, but would require the application of a special ‘mind-blowing’ procedure, such as the one carried out by Poland in acquiring the IBCS system for the Wisła program.

F-35 f-18 f-15 will carry solid rocket-ramjet AARGM-ER: INS/GPS, 250km range
Photo credit: USAF

However, during the briefing, it was announced that the United States is already in talks with several F-35 users to acquire the AARGM-ER system for their needs. However, in addition to the purchase from the FMS, there is another way to introduce AARGM-ER for a military force of an ally of the United States. We are talking about signing an agreement for joint production, development, and maintenance of the system. Such an agreement was previously reached with the Italian Air Force for the AARGM base and was recently extended for another decade. For their part, for example, the Germans simply acquired this system in FMS mode.

So far, allied forces, mostly American, have been able to break through the potential enemy’s air defenses using anti-radiation missiles. The US Air Force has a squadron of “wild weasels” – F-16 adapted to carry HARM/HCSM anti-radiation missiles, based at a permanent base at the Spangdahlem base in Germany.

Recently, however, E planes were transferred to Spangdahlem [due to Russian aggression against Ukraine]. These specialized machines, in addition to electronic warfare, can also carry AARGM anti-radiation missiles, and in 2023 new AARGM-ER will be added to their arsenal.

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