The U.S. Navy has taken a step forward in modernizing its air-defense-killing weapon arsenal with a recent decision to approve full-rate production of the AGM-88E Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (Aargm).

The Aargm upgrade kit to the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) missile incorporates a millimeter-wave terminal seeker as well as GPS/INS into the guidance section, allowing the weapon to address a “counter shutdown” capability gap against air-defense radars.

HARM was unable to stay on target once an air defense site shut down its emitter. This problem led not only to missed shots, but fratricide in some cases.

Aargm, however, can maintain course for a hit using its advanced guidance section. Navy officials say they conducted 12 live fire tests of Aargm for a total of 633 flight hours on F/A-18 C/D/E/F aircraft as well as the E/A-18G, the Navy’s Prowler replacement. Air crew and maintenance training was completed in June.

A Marine Corps F/A-18 squadron is slated to be the first forward-deployed unit to employ Aargm.

The Navy plans to award ATK its first full-rate order of 81 kits, nine of which are for Italy, this year. Delivery is slated for December 2013.