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MSPO 2019: Patience a virtue for Polish AARGM deal

3rd September 2019 - 11:22 GMT | by Tim Martin in Kielce

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Northrop Grumman is confident it can land an order with Poland for the air-to-ground Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), despite developments between the two sides having not moved beyond a 2018 letter of request.

In order for a contract to be signed, Poland will have to first ‘get in sequence’ with the USN’s procurement cycle – a move that could be delayed by the country’s forthcoming general election.

‘If customers [including Poland] want to acquire AARGM they will have to sign contracts, probably by 2021,’ a Northrop Grumman spokesperson told Shephard.

With three more full rate production lots available for the munitions manufacturer to complete AARGM requirements for the navy, Poland is left with a two-year window to decide on whether to buy the weapon.

Fielded on USN and USMC F/A-18C/D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft, AARGM has proven to be more of a harder sell in Europe.

Aside from Italian Air Force involvement in the programme, Northrop has struggled to add European customers – with wider export business limited to Australia – due to arm its Boeing EA-18G Growler Aircraft with the weapon.

European market opportunities are problematic, the spokesperson hinted, especially in Eastern Europe, because countries within the region don’t have ‘modern air forces’ from which to buy and field the munition.

Should international customers be interested in the latest extended range AARGM variant, currently under development for the USN, they will have to wait until the ‘2023 plus timeframe’, according to the spokesperson.

‘So the question is, does the international community really want a capability gap for [several] years?’ he said.

Future developments for the AARGM ER programme include the USAF integrating it on its F-35A fleet in 2025, a sign that it is clearly ‘getting weapons inventories up to speed’, the spokesperson added.

In terms of how Northrop Grumman plans on evolving AARGM beyond the ER variant, the company confirmed at Sea Air Space that an assessment into how the munition could be developed into a surface launched asset is currently underway. 

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