The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) has finalised the operational evaluation and testing (OT&E) of its AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Block 1 supersonic air-to-surface missile system with a live fire campaign at the US Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake Land Ranges in California during Exercise ‘Blazing Shield 2018’.
Commencing 2 April, a Panavia Tornado ECR (Electric Combat / Reconnaissance) aircraft from the AMI 155th ETS (Electronic Warfare Tactical Suppression) Group – attached to a contingent of nine AM platforms, including AMI Eurofighter Typhoons and a Spartan C-27J, assigned to NAWS as part of the exercise – conducted two successful live firings of the AARGM missile.
The ECR platform – a Tornado variant devoted to Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) missions – was piloted by a NAWS test crew, while a team from the Italian Air Force Test Wing (Reparto Sperimentale Volo: RSV) managed all phases related to the use of the missile from the China Lake Range Control Center, the AMI said in a release.
The AGM-88E AARGM – a US Department of Defense Acquisition Category ACAT 1C (Component) programme between the US Navy (USN) and the AMI – is the development upgrade of the AGM-88B/C High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) missile.
Baseline capabilities include an expanded target set, counter-shutdown capability, advanced signals processing for improved detection and locating, geographic specificity providing aircrew the opportunity to define missile-impact zones and impact-avoidance zones, and a weapon impact-assessment broadcast capability providing for battle damage assessment cueing.
Specifically, AARGM Block 1 introduces multimode terminal guidance, Digital Terrain Elevation Database-aided GPS/INS navigation, net-centric connectivity, a modified control section, and a weapons impact assessment transmitter.
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