The US Navy has awarded a contract worth $171m for Lot 7 full rate production (FRP) of the AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guided missile (AARGM).

Awarded to Northrop Grumman, the contract will involve the delivery of the advanced AGM-88E capability to the US warfighters, in addition to the Italian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Once delivered, the AGM-88E AARGM weapon system will enable troops of the three nations to effectively address the rapidly evolving surface-to-air threats.

Northrop Grumman Defense Electronic Systems vice-president and general manager Cary Ralston said: “The rapid proliferation of today’s threats require the most advanced solution to detect and defeat surface-to-air-threats and protect our nation and allies.

“AARGM is an affordable, game-changing solution and we are proud to provide this capability to the warfighter.”

Currently deployed to meet the operational requirements for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps (USMC), AARGM was developed under a US and Italian joint acquisition programme led by the US Navy.

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“AARGM is an affordable, game-changing solution and we are proud to provide this capability to the warfighter.”

The AGM-88E is a medium-range air-to-ground missile system that is currently integrated into the weapons systems on board the US fleets of FA-18C/D Hornet, FA-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Built as a modernised variant of the AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM) system, AARGM is a supersonic, air-launched tactical missile that is capable of fighting against and destroying hostile air defence missions.

With in-cockpit, real-time electronic order of battle situational awareness, the upgraded missile can engage both traditional and non-traditional advanced land and sea-based air-defence threats, in addition to other striking, time-sensitive targets.

Developed by Orbital ATK, which was acquired by Northrop Grumman, AGM-88E AARGM has a length of 417cm, diameter of 25.4cm and a wingspan of 112cm.

Weighing 361kg, the missile is capable of intercepting targets within the range of more than 60nm while travelling at a speed of more than Mach 2.