AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile: a solution or more questions?
Yesterday we already wrote about the American anti-radar missile AGM-88 HARM, the fragments of which were found at the site of the defeat of the Russian air defense system and raised many questions about the possible use of this weapon by the Armed Forces. And now, it seems, an answer has been found. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl confirmed, that the USA provided the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with anti-radar missiles as part of one of the previous aid packages. But this confirmation does not answer the question of exactly how the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine used these missiles.
“In recent military aid packages, we have included a number of anti-radar missiles that can be fired from Ukrainian aircraft and can affect Russian radars and other things,” Colin Kahl said during a press briefing on August 8, 2022 p.
Mr. Kahl also added that the US and its allies helped Ukraine get the spare parts needed to put additional Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jets into the air. But back to AGM-88 HARM.
The first, most fantastic option, which was discussed in the comments to the previous post – the use of Western F-16 or F-15 fighters by Ukrainian pilots, perhaps even from airfields in Poland or Slovakia, will be dismissed as too conspiratorial. It is difficult to hide, and if such facts were exposed, it would give Russia significant political bargaining chips for external and certainly internal use.
Regarding the use of AGM-88 HARM from drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, this is also impossible. The missile is too large for a drone and requires additional targeting.
Another option is the use of Polish or Slovak MiG-29s, which have been modernized to NATO standards and could be transferred to the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, there is no information that such a transfer has already taken place yet. In addition, there is no information that the AGM-88 HARM was ever launched, or even integrated with Soviet-made aircraft.
That is, the only option for using the AGM-88 HARM in Ukraine, and there seems to be no doubt about this fact, is the adaptation of Ukrainian fighters to this missile. Most likely, we are not talking about a complete modernization of the aircraft, but only about the adaptation of the suspension unit, the launch pylon and the missile initiation system.
The AGM-88 HARM has a very effective autonomous radar search mode, in which it only needs to be delivered, say, to the front line and released in the approximate area of finding the target. This is possible, for example, with the use of the Su-24M front-line bomber with the Phantasmagoria radio reconnaissance module, which will help find the enemy’s radar, localize the target and launch a missile in autonomous mode.
An even simpler option, suggested by Oleksandr Yevtushenko in the comments, is the use of the latest modifications of the AGM-88 HARM with a GPS unit, in which the missile can be launched by coordinates previously set on the ground. In this case, the missile is suspended under the aircraft, already programmed to enter the zone, the carrier only takes the missile to the launch point at the required height, direction and speed and performs the launch. After entering the target search area, the AGM-88 HARM independently scans radiation sources and selects the necessary target “from the catalog”. In this mode, it is even possible to select the enemy’s priority radar types before takeoff.
The difficulty of this method is that preliminary reconnaissance and determination of goals are required. In addition, if the enemy’s radar switches to passive mode, the homing head will no longer find it. But this very mode of use requires minimal adaptation of the carrier, as already indicated above, this is the adaptation of the suspension unit, the launch pylon and the initiation system. An additional plus is the possibility of launching from the maximum range, so as not to expose our pilots to additional danger.
It seems to be one of the latest uses of the AGM-88 HARM missile and is the most realistic. Well, we can only wish our aces a successful hunt and new non-standard decisions for the destruction of the occupiers.
P.S. Destruction of enemy radars and suppression of enemy air defense is a mandatory part of preparing for offensive actions, so…