US Navy completes first captive carry flight test of AARGM-ER on F/A-18 Super Hornet
The US Navy (USN) completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on a Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet on 1 June.
The F/A-18E performed a series of ”aerial manoeuvres to evaluate integration and structural characteristics” of the AARGM-ER during the test which was conducted at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River test range in Maryland, says the USN on 2 June. No other details of testing were provided by the navy.
The service plans to use data collected during testing for further flight testing which will continue over the next several years to prepare the weapon to reach initial operational capability in 2023.
The USN awarded Northrop Grumman a low-rate initial production lot one contract in April 2020 to begin manufacturing the AARGM-ER. The number of missiles to be initially produced was not disclosed.
The AARGM-ER is an air-launched weapon designed to destroy enemy air defence systems, such as surface-to-air missile batteries and radar sites. The missile is an extended range version of the service’s fielded AARGM weapon. It has a new rocket motor and warhead, says the USN. The missile’s range has not been disclosed by the service.
The USN plans to integrate the AARGM-ER with the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Growler. Eventually, the weapon is also to be qualified on the service’s F-35C, as well as the US Marine Corps’ F-35B and US Air Force’s F-35A.