US is taking into service the newest hunter of the Russian S-400s
In the United States of America, the development of missiles that will equip carrier-based fighters and other aircraft continues. A new weapon is currently being adopted – the AGM-88G AARGM-ER anti-radar missile.
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The term “anti-radar” means that the missile is aimed at the equipment that emits radio waves, ie. for radar systems. The Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile complex has exactly such a complex in its composition.
The Air Systems Command announced that tests began on June 1, 2020. The first fighter to carry the missile was the F/A-18E. As part of a flight, the aircraft performed a series of maneuvers, after which it landed safely. At that time, specialists and experts collected all the necessary information about the loads that a rocket can experience. In the end, it was decided to continue testing without changing anything in the sample.
It was subsequently decided that the F-35A and F-35C Lightning II, and later the P-8 Poseidon, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and Eurofighter Typhoon could carry the missile.
The missile was due to enter service in 2023, but flight tests are still underway, with the latest being completed in May 2023 at the Point Mugu Naval Range. It is not known whether the US will have time to complete all the improvements before 2024, but several European countries have already ordered such missiles for an impressive amount.
This weapon is part of a fairly well-known family based on the AGM-88 HARM. But it was created based on the AGM-88E AARGM, which is a later version. This suggests that the US Navy has decided to completely overhaul the old missile design.
It is worth noting that the development of AGM-88E began in 2005 when the order was placed by the military departments of the United States of America and Italy. Not only Orbital ATK but also Northrop Grumman are responsible for the creation of the project. Already seven years after the order, the Ministry of Defense of both countries became the owner of the first batches. In 2019, Germany decided to join them.
The US Navy began to finance the work on the creation of the AGM-88G AARGM-ER in 2016. The main condition was that this product should be as close as possible in form factor to the AGM-88E and at the same time have the best performance characteristics. Orbital ATK won the design competition and was awarded the contract two years later. The US Navy is the main customer for the missiles, but the Air Force also participates in the program.
The AGM-88E is indeed extremely unified, yet the AGM-88G has a different layout and equipment. The case is monolithic, and its diameter is 290 mm. From the outside, you can see fairings located on the sides, and from the planes you can only find tail rudders.
The layout has some changes: in the head compartment, there is a homing warhead, behind which the warhead is located, and the remaining space is occupied by the engine. The rudders are placed next to the nozzle apparatus.
The AARGM-ER retains the same GOS that can be found in the AARGM, but the devices are placed differently due to the characteristics of the case. Other equipment includes satellite as well as inertial navigation and autopilot mode.
The missile finds the target by the radio signals coming from it. The active radar starts working already in the last stage of the flight. GOS is not afraid of interference and can also work even when the radar signal is lost.
The exchange of data between the equipment on board and the carrier can take place right up to the moment when the missile hits the target. This helps the aircrew know if there has been a miss or a hit. The AGM-88G will have a newer and improved warhead, the parameters of which are currently being kept secret. One thing is known for sure – the customer required the product to contain a multi-mode fuse that could provide detonation in all conditions.
The long arm of aviation
Almost half of the length of the shell is occupied by an engine that uses solid fuel for operation. It allows the missile to reach a speed of 2M (2 speeds of sound) and a range of 300 km, twice that of the previous generation of missiles. The new weapon will become part of the combat kit that will be used to equip the F-35 fighter.
It is now clear that the US armed forces will soon have a highly effective series of new missiles at their disposal. Therefore, the threat to the air defense of other countries will become even greater, which may lead to retaliatory measures.
The real threat
The AGM-88G AARGM-ER is certainly a dangerous weapon that has several advantages. Primarily, the missile was created as a means of countering Russian air defense systems such as the S-400 and the advanced S-500 air defense system.
To oppose these weapons, it is necessary to improve the air defense system, which is likely to repel attacks by such missiles.
For example, the Russian Federation has long been armed with Pantsir anti-aircraft missile systems, which can be used to neutralize the AGM-88G AARGM-ER, as a cover for “large air defense” for a long time. The only question is, are there enough of them?
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