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Northrop completes third captive flight test of its SEAD missile

A27AD missile testing by Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman’s new missile solution is integrated into a company test aircraft prior to the flight test event at China Lake, Calif. Photo: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman says it has completed the third captive flight test of its prototype anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) missile.

The internally funded air-launched missile demonstrated capabilities relevant for multiple services, missions and platforms, the company said.

Completed at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, the test successfully validated the capability to identify and discriminate modern, integrated air defense systems and successfully tracked the intended targets during a series of captive flight maneuvers using the company’s test aircraft.

The missile is designed to target enemy air defense systems while providing forces the freedom of maneuver to complete a mission out of harm’s way.

The design leverages the company’s existing work under the US Navy’s AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER), including engineering manufacturing and development, low-rate initial production and integration work for F-35 aircraft.

While the company did not explicitly specify, the test will support its work on the development of the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW) missile that will equip the F-35 fighters. Northrop was one of three companies awarded US Air Force contracts earlier this year for the development of a missile that will enable the Joint Strike Fighter – and potentially other aircraft in the USAF fleet – to attack mobile anti-access, area denial platforms. Air defense systems, missile launchers, GPS jammers, and anti-satellite systems are among the potential targets of the new missile.

As noted by Northrop following the latest test, the missile design features open architecture interfaces that will allow for rapid subsystem upgrades to field enhanced capabilities to the warfighter.

“By merging our weapons expertise and internal investments with our digital engineering proficiency, we are rapidly delivering advanced missile capabilities,” said Mary Petrysyzn, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Defense Systems. “This formula supports our strategy to design, test and deliver technologically advanced capabilities ahead of schedule.”

The company is planning additional flight tests this year in more stressing scenarios that are relevant to all programs leveraging the AARGM-ER program. Live fire testing is set to begin during 2022.