Royal Netherlands Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Fighter (F-001)
Royal Netherlands Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Fighter (F-001)

Royal Netherlands Air Force Selects AARGM-ER Missiles for Its F-35A Fleet

The Dutch Ministry of Defence (Ministerie van Defensie) announced the decision to purchase AARGM-ER (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range) to equip the Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A aircraft. By procuring these AARGM-ER missiles, the Royal Netherlands Air Force not only gains a formidable and scarce capability but also addresses the shortage of anti-A2/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) ammunition in Europe. AARGM-ER missiles serve as a response to the growing A2/AD capabilities possessed by potential adversaries, including sophisticated air defense systems. Without AARGM-ER missiles, engaging in such hostile territories would entail substantial risks, constraining the freedom of military operations.

“Enhancing the weaponry of the F-35s was a concrete objective outlined in last year’s Defense White Paper. The newly acquired missiles, known as AARGM-ER, are supplied by the American manufacturer Northrop Grumman. This option was the only one that met all the requirements, leading the Dutch Ministry of Defence to acquire them through the United States government,” the Dutch Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM)

Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) is a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile system. It has the capability to perform Destruction of Enemy Air Defense missions and is an upgrade to the U.S. Navy AGM-88 HARM system. AARGM-ER is a major upgrade to existing AARGM, currently in production and fielded with the Navy and multiple allies today. AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force F-35A, Marine Corps F-35B, and Navy F-35C aircraft. AARGM-ER development uses digital modeling and integrated advanced AARGM sensors and electronics in a new high-performance air vehicle with upgraded propulsion and an optimized warhead.

The AARGM-ER program is leveraging the AARGM program currently in Full Rate Production. Design verification tests of the rocket motor were conducted at extreme cold and hot temperature conditions and successfully demonstrated required propulsion performance. The new missile will provide the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps with a vital counter-air-defense capability that can engage advanced and long-range threats while pilots remain outside of lethal engagement ranges. AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G, and will be compatible for integration of the F-35A/B/C. By leveraging the AARGM program, the AARGM-ER program with the new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage long-range adversary air defense systems.

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