“Significant firepower with the potential for up to 6 missiles per standard 40 ft ISO [shipping] container,” the Northrop Grumman product sheet also says. In 2018, the company had shown a model of a shipping container launch system for both the AARGM and AARGM-ER, with a nine-cell launcher. This containerized launcher, now reportedly known as the Modular Payload System, would offer significant additional flexibility, both in terms of what platforms, including ground vehicles and ships, could carry it, as well as how it might then be employed. As already noted, Northrop Grumman says that AReS is being designed with both land-attack and anti-ship capabilities, making it a very flexible weapon, to begin with.
With all this in mind, the product sheet does make clear that Northrop Grumman is actively pitching AReS to the U.S. Army. That service is looking to acquire and field an entirely new slate of longer-range ground-launched surface-to-surface missiles as it looks to better prepare itself for a higher-end conflict against a near-peer opponent, such as Russia or China. It has already announced that it will be evaluating a land-based Tomahawk cruise missile, as well as a ground-launched version of the U.S. Navy’s highly-capable multi-purpose SM-6 missile.
AReS could certainly be another attractive choice for the Army. With the Navy and the Air Force, and the potentially the U.S. Marine Corps, already planning to adopt the AARGM-ER, and the Air Force’s SiAW derivative also on the way, the costs to develop, procure, and sustain these new ground-launched missiles could be appreciably lower than those associated with other designs with similar capabilities. This could also prompt interest from the Marines, who are also exploring new ground-based longer-range missile capabilities, and foreign customers.
The War Zone has already reached out to Northrop Grumman for additional information, but from what we know already, AReS does seem like a very logical evolution of the existing capabilities found within the AARGM-ER design, which already looks set to be a very impressive weapon.
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