The US Navy’s advanced anti-radiation guided missile-extended range (AARGM-ER) has secured Milestone C approval.

The milestone, which was achieved on 23 August, allows the AARGM-ER programme to enter the first stage of production.

According to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the US Navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots during the coming months.

US Navy Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons office (PMA-242) programme manager captain Alex Dutko said: “The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone.

“We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible.”

The approval comes just two years after the US Navy awarded an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract to Northrop Grumman in 2019.

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In June last year, Northrop Grumman concluded its critical design review (CDR) for the AARGM-ER programme components.

Last month, the government/industry team conducted the first live-fire event to verify system integration and rocket motor performance, and initiate modelling and simulation validation.

NAVAIR noted that captive and live fire flight testing will continue until next year, while initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2023.

The US Navy will integrate the AARGM-ER on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft. AARGM-ER will also be compatible for integration on the F-35.

AARGM-ER features a new rocket motor and warhead. It is designed to provide advanced capability to detect and engage long-range adversary air defence systems.