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Air-Launched Weapons

US approves AARGM for German Tornados

30 June 2019
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Seen being carried by an Italian Air Force Tornado during testing, the AARGM will also be integrated onto the same type for Germany. Source: Italian Air Force

The US government has approved Germany's plans to integrate the Northrop Grumman AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) onto its fleet of Panavia Tornado combat aircraft, with a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notification published on 28 June.

The US State Department has given the green light for Germany to acquire 91 AARGM suppression of enemy air-defences (SEAD) missiles and eight training missiles through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). The total cost is estimated at USD122.86 million.

News of the approval came three months after Jane's first reported in late March a forthcoming US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) contract for Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC (a subsidiary of the AARGM original equipment manufacturer [OEM] Orbital ATK, which is now part of Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems) to 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.

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 SEAD role against ground-based air-defence radar sites. The AARGM is an upgrade to the HARM, with the new missiles being made of a mix of new components and older sections of the HARM missiles, which Germany first acquired in 1988.

While the AARGM acquisition will be done through the FMS process, the integration efforts will be done as a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) between the Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) and Northrop Grumman. The DSCA did not disclose a programme timeline, but 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.

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