Super Hornet completes first AARGM-ER captive carry flight

A US Navy-operated Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet has completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER).

Testing took place over the Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River test range in Maryland on June 1. During which, the F/A-18E conducted a series of aerial manoeuvres to evaluate the integration of the AARGM-ER and its structural characteristics in flight. The tests were conducted across a range of different flight conditions to demonstrate the munition’s carriage compatibility aboard the Super Hornet.

F/A-18E AARGM-ER Captive Carry [US Navy] #1
The captive carry flight test was conducted by Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet - BuNo 165167 (c/n 1324, line number E003) - assigned to the US Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) "Salty Dogs" from NAS Patuxent River on June 1. US Navy

CAPT Matthew “Mitch” Commerford, who oversees Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Direct and Time Sensitive Strike programme office (PMA-242), said: “This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER engineering and development phase… Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with [the] AARGM-ER.”

He added that testing of the munition will continue over the next few years, with an initial operational capability (IOC) planned for 2023. The extended range variant of the AARGM family has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead, which NAVAIR states “will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air [defence] systems.”

The munition is being integrated onto the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multi-role fighters and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. It is also being developed to be compatible for integration on the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B/C Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter family.