Australia will be equipping its new EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft with the new AGM-88E AARG (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile), as well as the older AGM-88D HARM (High speed Anti-Radiation Missile). First, Australia will receive training hardware and software for the two missiles, since they won’t be receiving the EA-18Gs for several years. The EA-18G is based on the F-18F, the latest version of the F-18. The EA-18G carries up to five electronic warfare pods, plus two AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and two anti-radiation (HARM) missiles. The EA-18G saw combat for the first time in Libya two years ago. Each EA-18G costs $110 million.
The first production models of the U.S. built AARG were delivered three years ago for testing. This included use on the EA-18G, which entered service two years ago. The older AGM-88D uses GPS so that the missile, which normally homes in on radar transmissions, can be used to attack targets by location alone. The AGM-88 moves at high speed (2,200 kilometers an hour or 36 kilometers a minute) to hit targets 100 kilometers away. That's why it's also called HARM (High speed Anti-Radiation Missile). The D version of the AGM-88 costs nearly $100,000 each. Another version uses more complex sensors that can detect and guide the missile to a wide variety of radar signals. These versions cost about $300,000 each. GPS enables HARM (or the aircraft carrying it) to locate radar when it is turned on, store the GPS location, then goes after the target regardless of whether the ground radar is turned on or off. Over 23,000 AGM-88s, of all types, have been produced in the last three decades.
The new AGM-88E uses a more complex and expensive approach to locating enemy air defense radars that are turned on briefly and quickly turned off. This is an attempt to avoid detection and destruction by missiles (like all AGM-88s) that home in on radar signals. The AGM-88E remembers where the radar is when it was on, however briefly, and carries its own high resolution (millimeter wave) radar to make sure it gets the radar (by looking for the distinctive shape of the target). Finally, the AGM-88E can transmit a picture of the target, just before it is hit, so the user can be certain of what was taken out. The AGM-88E was developed jointly by U.S. and Italian firms and weighs 355 kg (780 pounds), each with a 66 kg (150 pound) warhead. The original AGM-88 entered service in the 1980s. The original 1960s anti-radiation missile (ARM) quickly evolved into the HARM. Currently, there are orders for over 2,000 AGM-88Es from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Italy, and Germany.