Anti-radiation missile targeted at international market as follow-on to HARM from 2008
One year into its five-year development plan, the US Navy's Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) is being groomed for a diverse international market. Italy may join as a development partner later this year, as prime contractor Alliant Techsystems (ATK) considers a series of potential derivatives for offshore customers.
As the follow-on to the Raytheon AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), AARGM could have a natural customer base after entering the market in 2008.
ATK executives count Italy, Germany and the UK as solid prospects for the full-up weapon, incorporating a dual-mode passive radar/millimetre-wave seeker, upgraded GPS/INS navigation and a Quick Bolt datalink into a standard HARM airframe.
The Quick Bolt receives targeting cues and mission updates from sensors and transmits a weapons impact assessment (WIA) moments before striking the target.
Italy is in talks to sign a letter of intent later this year before formally joining the AARGM programme by early 2005, says Brian Lawrence, ATK's vice-president of strategy and business development. Meanwhile, ATK is hosting talks on Italian partnership contracts, ranging from component suppliers to test support operations.
AARGM would replace Italy's inventory of HARMs for the Panavia Tornado ECR fleet and, eventually, for external carriage on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
A larger market may exist, however, for a weapon that offers fewer upgrades over HARM's baseline capability, or for modular AARGM features incorporated into HARMs or other missiles, such as Raytheon's AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile or MBDA's Meteor, says Lawrence.
Some customers may prefer a baseline HARM with an upgraded passive radar seeker, while others may want a weapon with only AARGM's airframe and a millimetre-wave sensor to provide a low-cost air-to-surface missile. A further option could be to use only the WIA transmit antenna of the Quick Bolt feature, says Lawrence.
Meanwhile, AARGM is the subject of a navy-sponsored concept demonstration using a Mach 3.2 ramjet rocket motor designed by Aerojet. Over 50% more powerful, the Aerojet motor would be smaller in size, allowing the weapon to fit aboard the F-35 and other stealthy platforms.
Live fire tests are planned to begin in June 2005. The same ramjet was flight-tested on 18 May with Orbital Sciences' GQM-163A Coyote Supersonic Sea Skimming Target.
STEPHEN TRIMBLE / WASHINGTON DC
Source: Flight International