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US approves sale of AARGM-ERs to Australia

A US Navy F/A-18 Hornet launches an AARGM-ER during trials of the missile in December 2022. (US Navy)

The US Department of State (DoS) has approved a possible Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles-Extended Range (AARGM-ERs) to Australia.

The potential sale is almost certainly linked to a recent decision by the Australian government to acquire “new longer-range and more advanced anti-radiation missiles”. On 6 February, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said that the acquisition of new missiles is part of the overall strengthening of Australia's EA-18G Growler fleet.

The US DoS said that the sale was approved following a request by the Australian government to buy up to 63 AARGM-ERs and up to 20 AARGM-ER Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs).

The potential sale includes AGM-88G AARGM-ER Dummy Air Training Missiles (DATMs), containers, component parts, and support equipment. Other components of the proposed sale include software, publications, training, transportation, repair resources, US government and contract engineering support, and other related elements.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that the estimated value of the sale is USD506 million. The DSCA added that it delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on 27 February.

The AARGM-ER in development for the US is known as AGM-88G. The AARGM-ER is an improvement over the earlier AGM-88E, which is in service. In September 2021, Northrop Grumman Corporation said that the missile had achieved a Milestone C decision. This was expected to lead to the award of the first two low-rate initial production lots. On 8 December 2022, Northrop Grumman said that the missile had completed its fourth successful flight test.

According to US budget documents, the first production unit delivery of the AARGM-ER is scheduled to take place in 2025.

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