(Editor's Note: This has been updated to reflect additional information from an AARGM official.)
The Navy has issued a $41.2 million contract to Northrop Grumman for Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range low-rate initial production Lot One.
The Navy awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman subsidiary Alliant Techsystems Operations on Tuesday. The contract represents the start of low-rate initial production for the AARGM-ER program.
The program, an upgrade to the AGM-88E AARGM, reached milestone C in late August. The Navy plans to integrate it on F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft, and the missile is compatible with the F-35.
The contract “provides for the production and delivery of 16 AGM-88G AARGM-ER All Up Rounds, six AGM-88G AARGM-ER Captive Air Training Missiles, four Common Munitions BIT Reprogramming Equipment Plus interface devices, initial spares, and required supplies and support,” according to the Navy’s announcement.
Work on the contract is expected to be complete in March 2024, and will primarily be performed in Northridge, CA.
The program completed its first live-fire event in July, launching from an F/A-18. The Navy is planning for initial operational capability in 2023, and the program is on track for IOC in September 2023, Keli Olea, AARGM team lead, told Inside Defense in a statement Wednesday.
The program plans to conduct developmental test events over the next year and half, followed by integrated and operational test events, Olea said.
The Government Accountability Office's June annual acquisition report stated the program's critical technology, a flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor, was not fully mature when the program began development in March 2019.
The program told GAO it expected to demonstrate the technology is fully mature during flight testing in early 2021.
Olea said the flame-retardant insulation for the rocket motor is fully mature.
GAO reported design drawings were 98% complete as of July 2020. Olea said the program has now completed its design drawings.