For the second day, social networks and mass media have been discussing photos of the remains of the American AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile, allegedly found on Russian positions. And even if we wanted to believe that the Air Force of the Armed Forces finally received American planes and missiles for them, most likely, this is some kind of mistake, or another “fake” by the Russians, who want to accuse the United States of direct participation in the Russian-Ukrainian war.
The tail stabilizer shown in the photo really most likely belongs to the AGM-88 HARM missile, but how it appeared on Russian positions is a big question. Perhaps the Russians planted debris collected during the war in Serbia, Lebanon, or even Iraq. Or it should be considered that the American and domestic gunsmiths in a fairly short period of time solved a problem that was considered unrealistic – it is about the integration of American weapons with Soviet aircraft.
AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radar Missile) is an American high-speed (2,280 km/h) anti-radar missile with a range of over 100 km. Almost invulnerable to interference, can target even non-working radars and even radars with a change in operating frequencies. A very effective thing for suppressing enemy air defense.
But the fact is that the AGM-88 HARM missile, designed to destroy radars from the long distance, is used only from F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, F-4, EA-6B, F-35, Tornado and Eurofighter, none of which are currently in service with the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces. Fantasies about secret deliveries of Western aircraft are paranoia at the level of the Russian mass media.
The use of AGM-88 HARM from Ukrainian Su-24, Su-25, Su-27 or MiG-29 aircraft is impossible without integration with NATO-type weapon control, targeting, even power supply and mounting systems. Such work was not carried out on Ukrainian aircraft, although it was planned for 2020.
Some Soviet aircraft from Eastern European countries, or USSR aircraft that ended up in the USA, underwent rearmament for Western missiles, but there is no AGM-88 HARM in their nomenclature. As there are no planes of this type in Ukraine. The Su-25s, which were recently returned to us by North Macedonia, had been in storage since 2004 and definitely did not undergo such integration.
Another no less fantastic option is to launch AGM-88 HARM using MLRS systems HIMARS or M270. The AGM-88 HARM missile is quite small: 4.1 m long, 254 mm diameter, and also a 1.1 m wingspan. While GMLRS munitions for HIMARS and M270 are 3.93 m long with a diameter of 227 mm and no huge wings. That is, the AGM-88 simply will not fit into the launch container of the American MLRS, and we have not yet mentioned the energy of the missile for air launch and, again, the integration of fire control systems.
And finally, the variant with the launch of AGM-88 HARM with container launcher, the concept of which was shown by Northrop Grumman back in 2018. First, there is still no confirmation that this concept was actually implemented; and secondly, even in this version, the missile must receive initial targeting. Yes, the AGM-88 HARM is quite a smart thing, which can independently select targets, targeting even non-radiating radars, but it still needs preliminary targeting.
So where did the AGM-88 HARM, photos of which are circulating on the Internet, come from? Frankly, the only reasonable explanation as of now is a provocation by the Russians or a mistake. Everything else sounds too fantastic, at the level of conspiracy theories.
We also very much want to believe that the Armed Forces will receive Western aircraft and missiles for them, but… we must remain realistic.
Specifications of AGM-88 HARM
Weight – 355 kg
Length – 4.1 m
Diameter – 254 mm
Wingspan – 1.1 m
Warhead weight – 66 kg
Engine – solid fuel Thiokol SR113-TC-1
Range – more than 100 km
Maximum speed – 2280 km/h (Mach 1.84)
Guidance – passive radar homing with home-on-jam function, GPS/INS, millimeter-wave active radar homing in the E variant.
Launch platforms – F-4G, EA-6B, F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, EA-18G, Tornado IDS/ECR, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35