Lockheed Martin to integrate AARGM-ER missile into F-35 aircraft

By Defence Industry Europe

On January 12, NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command), on behalf of the US Department of Defence, signed a USD 97.3 million contract for the integration of Northrop Grumman AGM-88G AARGM-ER (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range) missiles with the F-35A/B/C Lightning II multi-role fighter family.


The contract, scheduled to be completed by March 2026, will be executed for the US Air Force (F-35A), the US Marine Corps (F-35B and F-35C), the US Navy (F-35C), and foreign military sales and F-35 JSF program partners including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, and other users of the 17th production batch of aircraft.

Previously, AGM-88G AARGM-ER missiles were integrated with F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare and air defence suppression aircraft, with flight tests conducted in 2021 and 2022. On September 25, 2023, Northrop Grumman announced it was selected by the USAF to supply the new anti-radiation missile for the F-35A under the codename SiAW (Stand-in Attack Weapon), based on the AGM-88G AARGM-ER design.



The AARGM-ER is designed for operations to suppress enemy air defences (SEAD), capable of striking anti-aircraft and missile systems, ballistic and cruise missile launchers, GPS jamming systems, and anti-satellite systems in heavily defended anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environments. The missile features a new 290 mm diameter airframe and a subsonic ramjet engine, doubling its range from 110 to approximately 220-250 km and increasing its maximum speed.

AGM-88G AARGM-ER missiles are produced with a new propulsion assembly and improved warhead, based on newly produced guidance systems comprising a passive radar signal receiver, satellite navigation, counting system, and millimeter-wave radar. This differs from the AGM-88E AARGM, where the propulsion and warhead are derived from stored AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) missiles of the previous generation.



In January 2018, the US Navy commissioned Northrop Grumman to develop the AARGM-ER. On March 18, 2019, the USAF announced collaboration with the US Navy to adapt the AARGM-ER for the F-35A, allocating USD 163 million for fiscal year 2020. Around the same time, the US Navy ordered further development for USD 323 million, with funding allocated until 2020.

In July 2019, the Department of Defence awarded Lockheed Martin a USD 34.7 million contract to begin modifications to the F-35’s internal weapon bays to carry the AARGM-ER. The work, including strengthening fuselage frames, was completed by July 2022. The design and integration efforts are overseen by the PMA-242 (Direct and Time Sensitive Strike) office of the Department of Defence.



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