The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) received Milestone C (MS-C) approval August 23, allowing the program to move into its first phase of production.
The U.S. Navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production lots over the next several months.
«The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone», said Captain Alex Dutko, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager. «We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible».
The MS-C decision comes just over two years after the Navy awarded the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to its prime contractor, Northrop Grumman. The team conducted the first live-fire event in July to verify system integration and rocket motor performance, as well as initiate modeling and simulation validation.
Captive and live fire flight testing is planned to continue through 2022 and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for 2023.
The U.S. Navy is integrating AARGM-ER on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and it will be compatible for integration on the F-35 Lightning II. By leveraging the U.S. Navy’s AARGM program, the AARGM-ER with a new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.
The U.S. Navy awarded a $496 million Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to L3Harris Technologies on December 18 to further the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) capability.
The contract supports the final design efforts and manufacturing of eight operational prototype pods and four test pods that will be used for various levels of testing and fleet employment to include airworthiness, functionality, and integration with and carriage on the EA-18G Growler host aircraft.
The contract award announcement from Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Program Office (PMA-234), the managing office for product acquisition, comes directly on the heels of NGJ-LB entering the EMD acquisition phase, often referred to as Milestone B (MS B).
«I’m proud of the hard work and determination of the Navy and industry team», said James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. «The teams work to reduce development risk, inform technology realities, and speed capabilities to the fleet was impressive. The efforts by all those involved enabled the Navy to move forward in a rapid manner to bring this new critical capability to bear for our warfighters, saving years in operational development».
Geurts signed the MS B Acquisition Decision Memorandum December 8, signifying his satisfaction with NGJ-LB’s proposed cost, schedule and performance intentions.
The program embarked on a Demonstration of Existing Technologies in late 2018, which informed technical maturity of capabilities. Originally the program was approved as a Middle Tier Acquisition Program due to the need for speed to fleet, but changes in policy mandated that the U.S. Navy rapidly move the program to a Major Defense Acquisition Program.
«The program did a great job of overcoming all the obstacles that this transition laid in front of them», said Geurts. «Really a herculean effort that I’m honestly proud to have been part of».
«NGJ-LB is the next step in the evolution of Airborne Electronic Attack that is needed to meet current and emerging electronic warfare gaps», said Rear Admiral Shane Gahagan, Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs. «The increased jamming capability that NGJ-LB brings to the warfighter is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Navy and other services».
NGJ-LB is an external jamming pod that will address advanced and emerging threats using the latest digital, software-based array technologies and will provide enhanced AEA capabilities to disrupt, deny and degrade enemy air defense and ground communication systems.
«Our AEA arsenal continues to expand with the NGJ-LB capability», said Captain Michael Orr, PMA-234 program manager. «With the NGJ-LB EMD contract award, we continue our focus on delivering the warfighter an unsurpassed capability».
NGJ-LB is part of a larger NGJ weapon system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System pods in the low frequency spectrum currently used on the Growler. The weapons system is a joint program initiative with Australia.