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Air-Launched Weapons

Northrop Grumman awarded AARGM-ER EMD contract

19 March 2019
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A model AARGM-ER missile being installed for a fit check into an F-35C weapons bay simulator. Source: Northrop Grumman

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded Northrop Grumman a USD322.5 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) development programme.

A USD17.2 million preliminary design contract for AARGM-ER was awarded to Northrop Grumman in November 2017. This work was completed in February 2019.

The EMD effort - awarded o 7 March and scheduled for completion by December 2023 - includes the design, integration, and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER for use on the US Navy's (USN's) F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) and F-35C carrier variant platforms. AARGM-ER could potentially equip the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A, which has the same bay dimensions as the F-35C.

The AARGM-ER development is part of the evolution strategy of the in-service AGM-88E Block 1 AARGM, and it leverages existing subsystems and components from the in-service AARGM, including the sensors, electronics, and warhead.

Northrop Grumman's AARGM-ER design introduces a new aft actuator control system - designed by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems - with the mid-body wings on the legacy AARGM removed. This not only enables a form fit capability internal to the F-35 but also improves manoeuvrability and reduces drag. The company has introduced side-body strakes that deliver lift during the missile's flight. To assist the required range increment, the existing mid-body control section componentry is repackaged to deliver additional space for propulsion, while the airframe is tapered up from aft of the seeker section to deliver an approximate 10% increase in diameter, with consequent additional volume for propulsion. A new solid propellant rocket motor for the AARGM-ER will be designed and integrated by Northrop Grumman Missile Systems.

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