Last week, aerospace giant Northrop Grumman has successfully passed a critical design review (CDR) for its AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile–Extended Range (AARGM-ER), which is under development for the United States Navy. 

The CDR followed a successful design verification test of the program’s key component.

Last year, the Navy was fast-tracking the new air-to-ground missile that was engineered to destroy an enemy’s air defenses and communications from farther distances than existing weapons. The weapon, a new variant of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), extended the attack envelope from 60 miles to 120 miles, vastly changing the engagement equation for attacking forces. It was intended to track and destroy enemy radar used for air-defenses by using a “dual-mode” sensor; the seeker uses millimeter wave technology, inertial navigation systems and GPS guidance. 

The extended-range variant borrows many components from the classic AARGM and has added a new rocket motor that increased its range, while a warhead has increased its destructive capabilities. For lift, it also has a short strake along its length, instead of the predecessor’s mid-body wings.  

The service completed the design verification tests of the missile platform’s motor and warhead, and also included a critical design review of subsystem and system-level performance.

“Rocket motor design verification tests represented a significant knowledge point and milestone for engineering and manufacturing development,” said Gordon Turner, vice-president of advanced weapons with Northrop Grumman, as reported by Flight Global. 

“These tests were important to informing the critical design review and verifying performance of the missile,” Turner added. “With our government partners, we are aggressively focused on achieving speed to fleet while holding to program cost objectives.”

Jane’s also reported that this latest milestone came days after the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced the first captive-carry test of the AARGM-ER aboard a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft. That test took place at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland on June 1.

The AARGM-ER can also be integrated on the Boeing EA-18G Growler, while the U.S. military has announced plans to eventually integrate it onto all three variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  

In March of 2019, the aerospace firm had been awarded a $322.5 million contract with the U.S. Navy for the engineering and manufacturing development program of the AGM-88G AARGM-ER. The service has also announced plans to award a low-rate initial production contract to Northrop Grumman in the third quarter of the fiscal year 2021 to being manufacturing of an undisclosed quantity of the missiles.  

This is just the latest test of military hardware produced by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy. Last month, the company manufactured and tested its Very Lightweight Torpedo for the service. The Navy has sought to develop new torpedoes that would significantly reduce cost without sacrificing operational performance.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. 

Image: Reuters.

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