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US State Department Approves Sale of AARGM-ER Missiles to Australia

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US State Department Approves Sale of AARGM-ER Missiles to Australia

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The AARGM-ER is launched from a US Navy F/A-18 during a successful live fire test at Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California.
The AARGM-ER is launched from a US Navy F/A-18 during a successful live fire test at Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California.

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles-Extended Range (AARGM-ERs) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $506 million. The Government of Australia has requested to buy up to sixty-three (63) Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles-Extended Range (AARGM-ERs); and up to twenty (20) AARGM-ER Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs). Also included are AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range Dummy Air Training Missiles (AARGM-ER DATMs), containers, component parts and support equipment; Repair of Repairables; software (Classified and Unclassified); publications (Classified and Unclassified); training (Classified and Unclassified); transportation; U.S. Government and Contractor engineering support; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by suppressing and destroying land or sea-based radar emitters associated with enemy air defenses. This capability denies the adversary the use of its air defense systems, thereby improving the survivability of Australia’s tactical aircraft. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The prime U.S. contractor will be the Javelin Joint Venture between Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL and Raytheon Missiles and Defense in Tucson, AZ.

Northrop Grumman Corporation AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER)
AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) (Photo by Northrop Grumman Corporation)

The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) is a tactical, air-to-surface anti-radiation missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems. It was originally developed by Texas Instruments as a replacement for the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM system. Production was later taken over by Raytheon Corporation when it purchased the defense production business of Texas Instruments. The High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile can detect, attack and destroy a radar antenna or transmitter with minimal aircrew input. The proportional guidance system that homes in on enemy radar emissions has a fixed antenna and seeker head in the missile’s nose. A smokeless, solid-propellant, booster-sustainer rocket motor propels the missile at speeds over Mach 2.0.

In September 2016, Orbital ATK (Orbital ATK was purchased by Northrop Grumman in 2018) unveiled its extended-range AARGM-ER, which incorporates a redesigned control section and 11.5 in diameter (290 mm) rocket motor for twice the range and internal carriage on the Lockheed Martin F-35A and F-35C Lightning II; internal carriage on the F-35B is not possible due to internal space limitations. The new missile utilizes the AARGM’s warhead and guidance systems in a new airframe that replaces the mid-body wings with aerodynamic strakes along the sides with control surfaces relocated to low-drag tail surfaces and a more powerful propulsion system for greater speed and range. It reportedly doubles the range and speed of the AGM-88E which would result in the AGM-88G’s range being around 300 km and speed of Mach 4 respectively. The U.S. Air Force later joined the AARGM-ER program, involved in internal F-35A/C integration work.

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