A strong air-defence system has become the cornerstone of defence strategies since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war last year.

In response to this growing defensive posture, Northrop Grumman has completed the fifth consecutive test of its advanced anti-radiation guided missile extended range (AARGM-ER) air-to-ground missile.

It was announced that the missile successfully detected, identified, located and engaged an advanced, land-based emitter target. It was fired overland against operationally-representative modern air defence system targets.

AARGM-ER deliveries will begin later this year to support initial operational capability for the US Navy in 2024. The missile is being integrated on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; EA-18G Growler; the Air Force’s F-35A fighter jets, the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs and F-35Cs.

Vice President in advanced weapons for Northrop Grumman Gordon Turner stated: “ AARGM-ER provides the Navy with a demonstrated capability to stay ahead of adversary threats. This successful live fire continues to prove the missile’s extended range, readiness, and effectiveness.”

US Navy Captain and Navy Programme Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Alex Dutko claimed: “AARGM-ER once again demonstrated high-speed employment of lethal effects against an air-defence system target. This is another successful step in our government-industry team’s effort to deliver this critically needed capabillity to our warfighters.”

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The missile’s development uses digital modelling and intergated advanced AARGM sensors and electronics in an air vehicle with upgraded propulsion and an optimised warhead.

The new missile will provide the Navy, Air force and Marine Corps with a useful counter-air-defence capability that can engage advanced and long-range threats whille pilots remain outside of lethal engagement ranges.

Some delays were experienced in the testing process given that the extended-range capability exceeds most test range infrastructure. As a result, range scheduling has been a challenge for the program, resulting in adjustments to the test plan and contributing further to schedule delays.