Home Air Ukraine using AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles on its MiG-29s, Pentagon reveals

Ukraine using AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles on its MiG-29s, Pentagon reveals

Ukraine MiG-29
Ukraine defense ministry file photo of a MiG-29 Fulcrum

Ukraine has integrated the US-supplied AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles onto its MiG-29 fighters, a senior Pentagon official confirmed during a background briefing on the latest tranche of US military aid for Ukraine.

The official confirmed the MiG-29 is capable of being integrated with the Northrop Grumman-built missile after it was first discovered Ukraine is using them earlier this month.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl has already confirmed that recent packages for Ukraine included a number of anti-radiation missiles but did not provide details which fighter type was employing them. Ukraine also operated Su-27, Su-25, and 14 Su-24 fighters at the start of Russia’s invasion.

Responding to questions from reporters on August 19, a Pentagon defense official said the US is sending another tranche of HARMs to Ukraine. The transfer is significant in that it provides Ukraine with a capability that seeks out enemy radars employed by air defense systems and destroys them.

“They have actually successfully integrated it as something that we determined would be technically-feasible, and based on that feasibility determination, we provided them with this capability,” the official said.

“When we first announced the initial provision of HARM missiles, the way that we characterized it in the announcement was not specific. We described that we were providing a counter-radar capability.

“But we have spoken to it publicly. I think Dr. Kahl is the most recent — Dr. Colin Kahl recently did reference it in a briefing here at the Pentagon. We do want to be careful about how we talk publicly about capabilities that will give Ukraine a significant asymmetric and unexpected advantage. In this case, we have seen them using it successfully, so we are more comfortable discussing it, but we are not disclosing the specific numbers of missiles.”

HARM missile on a US Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet

Responding to a question on whether there have been additional conversations or considerations about sending fighter jets to Ukraine, the defense official said “this is something where we certainly are looking at the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ needs in every domain in the current and in the future.”

“In the current, our focus has been on capabilities that we can get them quickly, that they can use in the current fight in now east and south Ukraine.”

“So in terms of aviation, we’ve focused on how we can enhance their existing aircraft fleet. That’s where the HARM missiles come into play, giving them that additional advantage. We’ve also sourced from around the world, you know, thousands of spare parts for their MiGs.”

The defense official spoke to reporters following Pentagon’s announcement on the 19th presidential drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $775 million to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs.

Equipment in this package will include additional HIMARS ammunition, 16 105mm howitzers and 36,000 105mm artillery rounds, 15 Scan Eagle UAS, 40 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles with mine rollers, additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles, 50 Humvees, 1,500 Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles, 1,000 Javelin anti-armor systems, 2,000 anti-armor rounds, mine clearing equipment and systems, demolition munitions, tactical secure communications systems, night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders.

In total, the United States has committed approximately $10.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $12.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.