The US State Department has approved the sale of up to 15 Northrop Grumman AGM-88E2 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) E2 missiles to Australia.
A US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification published on 21 June says the missiles and related equipment will cost US$94m (A$135m). The approval covers up to 15 AGM-88E2 guidance sections, AARGM control sections, HARM rocket motors, warheads, and control sections. Also included are captive air training missiles (CATM), GPS receivers, support and test equipment, and contractor and engineering support.
If confirmed, the buy will be the RAAF’s second acquisition of the AARGM after a previous sale approval in 2017. The RAAF operates the AARGM in the suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) role from its Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft operated by 6SQN at Amberley.
The AGM-88E is an improved version of the original AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM) which entered service with the US Navy and USAF in the 1980s. The latest AGM-88E was developed by the US Navy in cooperation with the Italian Air Force in 2006, and features an enhanced sensor, an advanced anti-radiation homing (ARH) receiver, global positioning system/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS), and an embedded Integrated Broadcast System Receiver (IBS-R) which can receive real-time targeting data from supporting systems and provide weapon impact assessment reports.
In-service US Navy, Italian Air Force, German Air Force AGM-88B HARMs have been remanufactured to the latest AGM-88E AARGM standard, while new-build missiles have also been manufactured. The missile can be employed from F/A-18A-F, EA-18G, Tornado ECR, and F-16C/DJ aircraft.