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Raytheon lifts veil on ramjet-powered HARM

Raytheon today unveiled a new concept for revolutionizing the accuracy, range, speed and perhaps even the mission of the quarter-century-old AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM).

The concept replaces the AGM-88’s dual-thrust rocket motor with a dramatically more powerful ramjet engine. Guidance is also upgraded with satellite-based navigation, fiber-optic gyroscopes and new software.

The new weapon could boost Raytheon’s competitive fortunes against a US Navy-sponsored upgrade: the Alliant Techsystems AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guidance missile (AARGM).

The improvements may also help the US Air Force cope with the increasing sophistication and range of integrated air defence systems, as well as attack time critical targets with an ultra-high-speed, precision-guided missile.

Raytheon has set a high bar for success on the project. The company’s goal is to design the 25.4cm (10in)- diameter missile to fit inside the internal weapons bay of any strike aircraft in the US Air Force fleet, as well as an on any outboard stations, says Jeff Wadsworth, Raytheon’s programme director for HARM.

Integrating the ramjet removes the mid-body wings of the missile and adds a tail-kit that includes a narrower set of four control fins.

“The tail is not nearly as large as the mid-body wings and we believe that let’s us carry it internally in new US aircraft that have internal weapons bays,” Wadsworth said.

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