The second live-fire flight test of Northrop Grumman Corporation’s AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) has been deemed a success. Testing was done last January 21 at Point Mugu Sea Range, Southern California. The US Navy launched the missile from a F/A-18 Super Hornet where it engaged a land-based target on San Nicholas Island from long range. Specifically, this test was used to verify the detection, identification, and engagement capabilities of the AARGM-ER against a land-based air defense radar system.

“Through the exceptional efforts of our government/industry team, we are another step closer to delivering capability to suppress the most advanced adversary air-defense systems without putting our warfighters in danger,” said Captain A.C. Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242).

It was reported in the press release that “AARGM-ER provides the USavy with the capability to stay ahead of evolving threats. This flight test further demonstrated the critical capability of AARGM-ER to precisely engage long-range threats while enabling launching aircrew to remain at a safe distance,” said Mary Petryszyn, Corporate Vice President and President, Northrop Grumman Defense Systems.

The AARGM-ER is launched from a US Navy F/A-18 during a successful live fire test at Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California. (U.S. Navy Photo via Northrop Grumman). Source:
The AARGM-ER is launched from a USUSavy F/A-18 during a successful live-fire test at Point Mugu Sea Test Range, California. (USUSy Photo via Northrop Grumman)

While the AARGM-ER’s upgraded abilities are classified, these anti-radiation missiles are weapons that ought to be looked for due to their design. Specifically, anti-radiation can suppress enemy air defenses by disrupting radio transmitters, radars, and jammers to attack enemies effectively. More so, it can detect where these radio frequencies are emitted from and target these radio emission sources. Furthermore, the AARGM-ER is fitted with an additional new high-performance air vehicle, solid rocket-ramjet motor propulsion system, an advanced warhead with newly upgraded AARGM sensors.

In fact, the missile has been proven so effective against air defense systems that it has been dubbed the “S-400 killer” by the Russian media as the S-400 Triumf (also known as the SA-21) surface-to-air missile is one of the best SAMs Russia has to offer. The killer missile is said to be delivered and fully operational by 2023, as Northrop Grumman had received a $45.6M contract for the second lot of AARGM-ER LRIP last December 2021.

Its first test was conducted last July 19, 2021, also at Point Mugu, Southern California. However, this test only used telemetry round without a warhead.

The new Russian air defense killer is currently being integrated to fit on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler. Additionally, the missile can also be carried by all variants of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets, with over a range of 124.27 miles to 186.41 (estimated) and speeds increased likely to Mach 4.