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Air-Launched Weapons

US to award AARGM integration contract for German Tornados

24 March 2019
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Seen in front of a Eurofighter Typhoon, the AARGM anti-radiation missile is to be integrated onto the Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR fleet. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Germany is moving ahead with plans to integrate the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) onto its fleet of Panavia Tornado combat aircraft, with a software development contract disclosed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 21 March.

The contract to be awarded by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will see Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC develop the Block 1 software for the Luftwaffe Tornado AARGM configuration in support of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case between the US and Germany.

NAVAIR did not disclose how much the contract would be worth, or when it might be awarded and completed. Jane's has previously reported, however, that the AARGM integration is being undertaken as part of the Tornado ASSTA-4.2 effort, which could mean that the missile will be available from 2023.

The Luftwaffe requires the AARGM to replace its current stock of the Raytheon AGM-88B/C High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), which are used in the suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) role against ground-based air-defence radar sites.

The AARGM significantly improves on the HARM with an enhanced field-of-view that affords the missile sharper target-detection capabilities. The addition of a millimetric wave (MMW) radar enables radar imagery to be tracked and recorded, while GPS/INS navigation allows for missile tracking to continue in the event of the enemy radar being shut down. Further to being more capable, the AARGM will be easier to support as the US Navy (USN) replaces its own HARM stocks with the newer missile.

As with those missiles employed by the Italian Air Force, those supplied to Germany will be carried by the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) variant of the Tornado used in the SEAD role. The Luftwaffe fields 22 ECRs as part of a wider Tornado force that includes a further 68 Interdiction Strike (IDS) aircraft.

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