AGM-88E Advanced Anti- Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM)
AARGM is an air-launched missile with the capability to rapidly engage air-defense threats. AARGM is currently deployed with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps on the F/A-18C/D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft. AARGM is also integrated on the Italian Air Force’s Tornado Electronic Combat aircraft.
The Advanced Anti- Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Project was a Phase III Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program to develop and demonstrate a dual- mode guidance section on a HARM airframe. The AARGM Phase III technology demonstration program was designed to demonstrate that a Dual- mode (passive Anti- Radiation Homing (ARH)/ active Millimeter Wave (MMW) radar) missile can engage and destroy enemy air defenses in the event that these systems "shut- down" or employ other countermeasures.
The issue of "shut- down" has been a major shortcoming in the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) element of the offensive counter air mission area for the United States Navy and Air Force.
Program objectives are to demonstrate an effective and affordable lethal SEAD capability against mobile, relocatable, or fixed air defense threats even in the presence of emitter shutdown or other Anti- Radiation Missile (ARM) countermeasures. The dual- mode technology being developed in the AARGM program has very high potential to solve the problem of "shut- down" not only in the primary weapon for SEAD, the High Speed Anti- Radiation Missile (HARM), but it could be integrated with many other missile airframes.
AARGM was to be employed in the offensive counter air/suppression of enemy air defenses role in direct support of all the mission areas within the objective force (e.g. strike warfare, amphibious warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, command and control warfare, and information warfare) providing a rapid, organic response to air defense threats ranging from smallscale contingencies to major theater war. The AGM-88E AARGM will be designed to provide a new multi-mode guidance section and modified control section mated with existing HARM propulsion and warhead sections. The new guidance section was designed to have a passive anti-radiation homing receiver and associated antennae, a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System, and an active millimeter wave radar for terminal guidance capability. AARGM was projected to have the capability to transmit terminal data via a weapons impact assessment transmitter to national satellites just before AARGM impacts its target. The Navy intends to incorporate a provision to receive off-board targeting information, via the integrated broadcast system.
The AARGM acquisition objective was 1,750 missiles. The AARGM technology demonstration program was an outgrowth of a Phase I and II competitive SBIR program. Phase I and II SBIR efforts successfully demonstrated the feasibility of a dual- mode seeker to address radar "shut- down" issues. Science and Applied Technology (SAT), Inc. (San Diego, CA), was awarded Phase I and II contracts (FY90- 93) and was subsequently selected for a Phase III demonstration in FY94. Phase III work was being performed by SAT under NAVAIR contract N00019- 94- C- 0078. This contractual effort will continue to be incrementally funded, under program element 0205601N, resulting in a cumulative contract value of $150.4M. From FY93 through FY98, the AARGM program was a Congressionally mandated program which received its funding as an annual Congressional add. Starting in FY99, AARGM received its program funding through the standard DoD budget appropriation process. The FY99 funds added by Congress are being used to perform risk reduction tasks in preparation for a potential Milestone II Decision in FY 2003.
The acquisition strategy for the AARGM Program was based upon U. S. Navy operational requirements; the AARGM program was driven by the conclusion derived from an Analysis of Alternatives for advanced Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) technology. Current acquisition strategy was consistent with the FY98 independent program review forwarded to Congress by SECNAV and the FY99 Authorization Report. The innovative research AARGM demonstration was fully funded and executable and will result in fabrication of research articles and limited flight testing of the AARGM dual mode seeker with moderate risk. The U. S. Navy Project Manager was responsible for Program management and execution. AARGM's acquisition strategy delineates Industry and Government responsibilities. The contract strategy (i. e. software evaluation, control test vehicle development and testing, guided test vehicle development and testing) assigns work package tasks to a primary contractor, Science and Applied Technology (SAT) Corp. The SAT contract was funded on an incremental basis with work scope defined in contract options and contract modification statements of work. Government responsibilities include monitoring, technical assessment and validation of contractor technology development. The AARGM technology demonstration was expected to be completed by the end of FY01.
According to the DOT&E the system faced two challenges. First, the test range infrastructure did not exist to adequately assess the full capabilities of the design with regard totarget discrimination. The target sets must emulate the threat system in physical appearance as well as in the electronic environment. DOT&E was working with the Program Manager to develop and fund adequate targets to support testing. The second challenge was the limited number of missiles available during testing. The number of missiles dedicated to testing was reasonable based on the program's total procurement and available model tools; however, if any test event shot suffers a failure, there was little reserve to retest and verify the results.
The Navy completed testing, including some testing with the operational test agency, of the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) Block 1 in March 2017 and fielded the system in July 2017. AARGM Block 1 is a software-only upgrade addressing deferred capabilities and deficiencies discovered in FY12 during IOT&E. AARGM Block 1 software demonstrated some improved capabilities over the previous Block 0 software, but still demonstrated shortfalls in key areas of reliability and accuracy.
Navy test squadrons VX-31 and VX-9 conducted Block 1 integrated testing beginning in 4QFY14 and ending after DOT&E rescinded test approval in 3QFY16. VX-31 and VX-9 continued limited testing of Block 1 as a developmental test assist in order to characterize the system. In FY17, VX-31 completed the final three of eight live fire test events. Of the eight live fire events, six were successful engagements and two were unsuccessful because the missiles did not impact anything of tactical significance. The analysis of the two unsuccessful events revealed classified deficiencies.
AARGM Block 1 was not operationally suitable, having failed to satisfy two Capability Production Document (CPD)-defined reliability requirements in addition to demonstrating a decline in reliability compared to Block 0. Testing during the period was not adequate to provide an evaluation of operational effectiveness or survivability. Cybersecurity testing was conducted in accordance with the approved test plan but the test strategy proved ineffective for assessing AARGM’s survivability against cyber-attacks. The Navy released Block 1 software in July 2017 without completing operational testing and without adequately addressing the performance and software stability problems discovered during Block 1 testing.
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