MINNEAPOLIS --- The AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) program has successfully completed a Milestone C review and received approval for entry into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Mr. Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, rendered the decision in a September 30, 2008 Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) signaling the program had demonstrated compliance with all milestone criteria, including successful completion of an Operational Assessment (OA) test phase.
Achievement of Milestone C formally signals that the missile system's maturity is sufficient to commence LRIP. AARGM, an upgrade to the U.S. Navy AGM-88 HARM system, is a U.S. and Italian international cooperative major acquisition program with the U.S. Navy as the executive agent.
Milestone C assessed program acquisition maturity of the weapon system as well as ATK's readiness for production. The key test event, an AARGM Operational Assessment (OA), was completed in August culminating in successful missile launches against air defense targets in a series of highly challenging operational scenarios. With these launches, AARGM has successfully executed eleven live missile firings and numerous captive carry flights against a wide array of targets.
"The combined ATK, Navy, and Italian team achieved Milestone C consistent with the program's original Milestone B plan," said Jack Cronin, President, ATK Mission Systems. "ATK is ready to commence production of an affordable, precise, and lethal multi-role strike and Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD) weapon for U.S., Italian and other Allied Forces." When fielded in 2010, AARGM will be the only extended range tactical supersonic multi-role strike weapon in the U.S. and Italian inventories. "AARGM delivers a game-changing capability to our fleet," says Rear Admiral Kenny Floyd, Director of Air Warfare at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations N88. "Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our acquisition, industry, and test community professionals, with this Milestone C achievement, our warfighters can look forward to having the best destruction of enemy air defense weapon at their disposal."
The capability and success achieved by the AARGM program can be traced to the Navy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and DoD Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) programs. The AARGM guidance section technology was developed under a series of Phase-I, II, and III SBIR contract awards in the 1990's.
"The AARGM program is one of the major success stories of the Navy's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program," said Mr. John Williams, Director of Navy SBIR Programs, "Not only did the AARGM program itself originate as a SBIR before progressing into an Acquisition Category-IC program, it incorporates technologies from multiple other Navy SBIR and Science and Technology initiatives. Examples include the missile radome, precision radome machining techniques, and the radar gimbal."
Following the success of the SBIR, AARGM continued its maturation under the "Quick Bolt" ACTD program. The ACTD phase concluded in 2003 with a positive Military Utility Assessment (MUA) from United States European Command (EUCOM).
"The AARGM program is truly a success story for the Department of Defense, our Italian partners, and the joint warfighting community," said Dr. John Wilcox with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense's Office of Advanced Systems and Concepts (ODUSD (AS&C)), "AARGM is an example of the benefits of the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration process that integrates the warfighter into the acquisition process at an early stage. ODUSD (AS&C) is proud to be a part of this success story. The United States European Command Military Utility Assessment Report summary that AARGM is 'a resounding success for the warfighter and the DoD' resonates today as this capability moves into production and the Fleet."
ATK has collaboratively developed AARGM with the U.S. Navy's AARGM Integrated Product Team, led by the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Program Office (PMA-242). The AARGM team also includes members from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division -- China Lake, California, the Naval Air Systems Command -- Patuxent River, Maryland, the Italian Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and multiple industry partners.
AARGM is a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile that will be integrated on the FA-18C/D, FA-18E/F, EA-18G and Tornado ECR aircraft. The missile is also designed for compatibility with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, EA-6B Prowler and F-16 Falcon aircraft. AARGM's multi-spectral, multi-sensor system, includes a Millimeter Wave (MMW) radar, an advanced digital Anti-Radiation Homing (ARH) receiver, and a GPS/INS, capable of rapidly engaging traditional and advanced enemy air defense targets as well as non-radar time-sensitive strike targets.
The AARGM MMW seeker can operate in concert with the ARH to counter RF shutdown tactics, or in a stand-alone mode to guide to non-emitting time sensitive targets. AARGM is a network-enabled weapon that directly receives tactical intelligence information via an embedded receiver and transmits real-time Weapon Impact Assessment (WIA) reports prior to impact.
ATK is a premier aerospace and defense company with more than 17,000 employees in 21 states and $4.6 billion in revenue.