Here's What You Need To Remember: The AARGM-ER and its predecessor are a type of missile known as anti-radiation missiles—in essence, intelligent munitions that detect radio frequency emissions or radio waves. Typically they’re used in an air-to-ground capacity, released by forward air elements to take out communications nodes or anti-aircraft defenses before further forward aircraft movement or missile salvoes.
The United States Navy completed the first live-fire event for their new AARGM-ER anti-radiation missile. In a statement released by the Naval Air Systems, the Navy office charged with creating advanced naval solutions explained that a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet fired the missile, officially called the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile—Extended Range.
The test was the AARGM-ER’s first live-fire test and served to validate the previous modeling and computer simulations conducted by the Navy leading up to the trial. The live-fire event also validated the rocket’s motor components.
“This first live-fire event is a major step to providing our fleet with the most advanced weapon system to defeat evolving surface-to-air threats," explained a Navy official involved with the AARGM-ER missile testing. “Our Navy and Northrop Grumman team has done tremendous work executing this event and ensuring we met all test objectives.”
In addition to the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the Navy plans to integrate the missile onto the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the United States’ premier single-engine stealth fighter, potentially opening the anti-radiation missile’s application to other branches of the military besides the U.S. Navy exclusively.
In another press release, Northrup Grumman, the AARGM-ER manufacturer, explained that the test also validated the missile’s “long-range capability of the new missile design” and usefulness as a stand-off munition.
The AARGM-ER is, in essence, a more advanced variant of the Navy’s AGM-88E AARGM, used to suppress enemy air defenses. Northrup Grumman states that the missile “leverages AARGM with significant improvements in some technology areas.”
The AARGM-ER and its predecessor are a type of missile known as anti-radiation missiles—in essence, intelligent munitions that detect radio frequency emissions or radio waves. Typically they’re used in an air-to-ground capacity, released by forward air elements to take out communications nodes or anti-aircraft defenses before further forward aircraft movement or missile salvoes.
Thanks to a networked information capability, American warplanes can launch the AARGM family of missiles before they’ve even detected a target, relying on information relayed from other sources to acquire enemy targets.
“While this event serves as a validation of this hard work, it more importantly, gets us one step closer to making our fleet more lethal,” a person involved in the missile’s development explained. “Our engineering and test teams have worked tirelessly with their counterparts across the enterprise and government teams.”
Though the AARGM-ER remains in testing, for now, the missile program has moved close to widespread service with this latest test.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.
This article first appeared earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.