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The Navy is fast-tracking a new air-to-ground missile engineered to destroy enemy air defenses from farther distances than existing weapons and succeed in hitting radar systems after they are shut down by adversaries.

The weapon is a new variant of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM), a missile intended to track and destroy enemy radar used for air-defenses by using a “dual-mode” sensor; the seeker uses millimeter wave technology, inertial navigation systems and GPS guidance.

While engaged in heavy combat, air-to-ground radar, missiles systems and long-range air defenses are often “shut off” as part of an attempt to avoid being detected by air-to-ground electromagnetic sensors from the air. This way, air defenses can turn on and emit a signal just long enough to fire at overhead aircraft before turning off.

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“With the dual mode sensor the weapon is able to go find a target that has shut down in a defensive measure, and continue the engagement,” Capt. Matthew Commerford, new program manager for the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons office, said recently at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space symposium.

The new variant, called the AARGM - ER for “Extended Range” extends the attack envelope from 60 miles to 120 miles, vastly changing the engagement equation for attacking forces. The missile needs to hit longer ranges, Commerford explained, because enemy air defenses have become much more advanced. New air defenses, such as Russian built S-400s, continue to be upgraded with digital processors, improved networking and an ability to use a wider range of frequencies.

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Category: Science