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AGM-88 HARM are high-speed anti-radiation missiles (ARM) originally developed by the U.S., to replace the earlier AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM missiles used against air defense radar, often in an integrated air defense system. The "high-speed" aspect of HARM is intended to allow it to fly faster than a radar-guided surface-to-air missile (SAM), so if the SAM radar can be killed and the SAM does not have independent guidance, the SAM will go out of control and no longer be a threat. HARM can also attack other types of radar (e.g., early warning) within its frequency range.

Another aspect of high speed is that the HARM will "remember" the last position of a radar transmitter that is only turned on briefly and then shut off, and will continue to engage the radar. It is a precision-guided munition that should hit the hostile radar antenna with its blast-fragmentation warhead.

Aircraft using the HARM include the U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Block 50/52, the Navy EA-6B Prowler and EF-18 Growler, Italy, and Germany. Italy and Germany are participating, with the U.S., in new development of the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting Set pod, including GPS to help it hold precision course to a shut-down radar. The AN/ASQ-213 can connect to any aircraft with a MIL-STD-1553B bus.

There was sufficient inaccuracy in the "memory" mode that HARMs were not used against radars near civilian facilities. It is planned to be used by the F-22 Raptor and the F-35.

The HARM, BaE Systems ALARM, and French Matra Armat ARMs have different design philosophies; the HARM and ALARM could be complementary on the same mission. HARM is faster than ALARM and can defend better against an immediate threat, while ALARM is better at suppressing radars and keeping them from being turned on.

Both HARM and ALARM are seen as supplemental defense weapons for aircraft on a general strike mission, where Armat is a long-range missile more likely to be used on a specific mission to kill an early warning radar.

General characteristics

  • Function: Air-to-surface anti-radiation missile
  • Prime Contractor: Raytheon
  • Power Plant: Thiokol dual-thrust rocket motor
  • Thrust: Dual thrust
  • Length: 13 feet, 8 inches (4.14 meters)
  • Launch Weight: 800 pounds (360 kilograms)
  • Diameter: 10 inches (25.40 centimeters)
  • Wingspan: 3 feet, 8 inches (101.60 centimeters)
  • Range: 30 plus miles (48 plus kilometers)
  • Speed: high supersonic
  • Warheads: Fragmentation-blast
  • Unit Cost: $200,000
  • Date Deployed: 1984