Confirmed: US integrated AGM-88 HARM into Ukrainian MiG-29s

WASHINGTON — US-made AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles were integrated into Ukrainian MiG-29 military aircraft. Its integration took place with the help of the US.

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

The war between Russia and Ukraine, which has been ongoing since February 2022, continues to host interesting events. In recent weeks, it was revealed that Ukraine used AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles against Russian air defense elements. The claim that these missiles were integrated into Ukrainian MiG-29s has been confirmed.

The AGM-88 HARM is actually a US-made anti-radiation missile. It is preferred for the destruction of anti-aircraft missile systems, radar stations, command and communication elements, and electronic warfare systems. Like many anti-radiation missiles, it has a passive radar homing system. In other words, the missile is guided by radio waves coming from the target.

On August 7, 2022, some Russian social media accounts shared a photo of the parts of the AGM-88 HARM missile. The debris in question is said to belong to a HARM targeting Russian systems. On August 11, this time, photos of the debris belonging to the HARM missile were shared. The remains in question are believed to belong to HARM in the area of ​​Kherson Oblast.

AGM-88 HARM into MiG-29

Confirmed: US integrated AGM-88 HARM into Ukrainian MiG-29s
Photo credit: MoD Ukraine

The main question mark here was: the AGM-88 HARM, as the name suggests, is an air-to-ground missile [AGM], which therefore must be launched from an airborne platform, such as an aircraft. Because it is manufactured in the US, the missile is in service in standard NATO aircraft such as the F-16. The aircraft in Ukraine’s hands are from the Soviet era, such as the MiG-29 and Su-25. Since it would be impossible to launch such a missile from the ground, Ukraine would either have to pirate Western aircraft [Ukraine does not own any Western aircraft] or the missile would have to be adapted for use by Soviet-designed aircraft, such as the MiG-29.

On August 19, 2022, the Pentagon announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine. The fact that HARM missiles were also included in the package in question raised the possibility that HARM was integrated into the MiG-29.

Official confirmation

A Pentagon official confirmed the news to The War Zone, saying: “First, we are providing additional High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. These are the HARM missiles. Ukraine has successfully employed these missiles. They have successfully integrated them into Ukrainian aircraft, and this enables Ukraine to seek and destroy Russian radar. So we’ll be providing additional HARM missiles.”

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Twitter screenshot

After that, the representative of the Pentagon continues: “The aircraft that the Ukrainians have integrated – and you’re right, this is a Western produced missile – the aircraft that they have integrated it with is their MiG aircraft. So they have actually successfully integrated it. [This] is something that we determined would be technically feasible. And based on that feasibility determination, we provided them with this capability. So this is actually the second tranche of HARMs that we’re providing.”

So how do MiG-29s use HARM?

US F-16s use a guidance system called HTS for HARM. The missile can be directed at targets detected by the HTS. Therefore, the HARM missile is launched in HAS mode, where its own seeker is used as a sensor. Systems detected by the HARM search head can be targeted. Since there is no HTS, the detection range is greatly reduced in HAS mode.

Syria received second batch of modernized MiG-29 fighters from Russia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

HARM also has a fly-and-shoot mode with a preset POS name. Older versions of the AGM-88 only have an inertial navigation system. The missile is launched to a predetermined area and then seeks the target’s radar with its own homing head. In the AGM-88D model, on the other hand, GPS is also available and can directly target the precisely set coordinate.

We assume that Ukrainian MiG-29s also use HARM missiles in POS mode.


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