Home Radiation USAF fires 2 AGM-88 Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) in Guam that Ukraine successfully used against Russia

USAF fires 2 AGM-88 Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) in Guam that Ukraine successfully used against Russia

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US Air Force EA-18G Growlers recently conducted a live-fire exercise near Guam, the location of two vital US military sites that are just 1,800 miles from China.

During the exercise, the USAF announced that the fighter jets simultaneously fired two AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation missiles (HARMs).

Guam, a strategically important island in the western Pacific Ocean in Micronesia, is becoming increasingly important in the climate of aggressive and problematic peer competition.

EA-18G Growlers from the “Star Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 209 participated in the training. In a statement, the USAF said VAQ-209 is currently forward deployed to Japan and conducting operations throughout the Indo-Pacific as a VAQ Expeditionary Squadron attached to Commander Task Force (CTF) 70.

He further noted that it was the only reserve EA-18G squadron in the U.S. Army. The EA-18G Growler is the most sophisticated airborne electronic attack aircraft (AEA), with the ability to operate from an aircraft carrier or ground base.

“Supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific and operating from Andersen Air Force Base on the ‘Front Edge’ while utilizing the Mariana Islands range complex, VAQ-209’s live-fire exercise provided a valuable training to gunnery personnel and aircrew,” the service added.

VAQ-209 conducts AGM-88 HARM live-fire exercise

Based on the Super Hornet platform, the EA-18G Growler is a modified version of the F/A-18F Super Hornet with structural modifications, avionics and mission systems installed.

Separately, AGM-88 HARM is a fighter-launched tactical weapon with the ability to locate and target radiation emitted by adversary radar installations with surface-to-air detection capabilities.

Although Raytheon Corporation, a major US defense contractor, currently manufactures the missile, it was originally created by Texas Instruments. Northrop Grumman, located in Dulles, Virginia, produces a more sophisticated version of the weapon.

The AGM-88 HARM is only 10 inches in diameter and 14 meters long. It contains a fragmentation-type warhead suitable for radar targets and weighs around 360 kilograms. The missile has a digital solid-state processor, a wideband RF antenna and an anti-radar seeker. It can hit a target at a distance of over 100 kilometers.

The United States Air Force (USAF) is developing the extended-range AARGM-ER as the basis for its next-generation Stand-In Attack Weapon (SiAW) to arm the F-35A with the capability SEAD.

Additionally, the missile will be able to strike sophisticated threats such as theater ballistic missiles and ground attack/anti-ship missile sites, GPS jammers and anti-satellite systems. Ukrainian forces have also widely used the missile against Russian troops in the ongoing war.

AGM-88 HARM in Ukraine

In early August 2022, social media began picking up stories of HARM missile wreckage. According to open source intelligence analysts, photographs of the missile’s apparent fragments displayed real serial numbers that may be linked to the AGM-88 HARM.

These reports caused confusion in Ukraine because it had no fighter jets like the American F-16 or F/A-18 Hornet, which were the only aircraft certified to carry HARM.

Nor were the HARM missiles listed as having been given to Kyiv by the US government, which frequently lists weapons delivered to Ukraine as part of military aid. However, these inferences were later supported by the US statement.

AGM-88 HARM Ukraine Russia
AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation missiles

He discovered that Ukraine had instead fitted outdated MiG-29 aircraft with the missiles. An unnamed US defense official said the Pentagon had sent HARMs to Ukraine and added, “We are providing additional high-velocity anti-radiation missiles,” during a press briefing.

Ukraine was able to successfully install HARM on its MiGs. To accomplish this, a NATO-style weapons pylon was attached to the wings, integrated with the aircraft’s electrical system, and equipped with a touch-sensitive launch button in the cockpit.

Experts believe the Ukrainian pilots are likely firing the missiles in pre-brief mode. This allows the missile to be fired at a known radar target at its maximum range. Pre-Brief mode is the simplest launch configuration. It involves the least pilot training and does not depend on any additional NATO equipment incompatible with the MiG-29.

This missile was successfully mounted on the jet by Ukrainian technicians. On the other hand, Russian sources claimed that most of the American AGM-88 HARMs fired at Ukraine were shot down in the air, rendering them completely ineffective.