Northrop Grumman Corp. has been authorized by the Pentagon to begin low-rate initial production of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range weapon.The AARGM-ER is a major upgrade with a new rocket motor and warhead to the existing AARGM missile currently in production and in service with the U.S. Navy, the Falls Church, Va.-based defense contractor said in a news release.
The missile system is produced at Northrop’s facility in Northridge.It is a supersonic, air-launched weapon that can rapidly engage traditional and advanced land- and sea-based threats. It hones in on enemy radar systems for guided missiles and similar targets.Capt. A.C. “Count” Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike, said that the additional capabilities of the new missile will provide the fleet with the most advanced weapon system to defeat surface-to-air threats.“Our team has continued to prove the maturity of the system and we are confident AARGM-ER is ready to commence low-rate production,” Dutko said in a statement.The missile is being mounted on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, its variant the EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy versions of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.Northrop completed the first live fire of the missile in July at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of Ventura County. Live fire flight testing is planned to continue through 2022 and initial operational capability is planned for 2023, the Navy said in a release.