Feb 02 2015
Raytheon Corp. has been awarded a fixed-price contract for $491,478,068 for the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) for the U.S. Air Force and Navy and foreign military sales to Korea, Oman, Singapore, and Thailand.
The AMRAAM is built at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., facilities, and work is expected to be completed by February 2017.
AMRAAM has been integrated on the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, and AV-8B as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen, according to Neil Jennings, Raytheon’s AMRAAM business development lead. He adds the U.S. Air Force currently is in the process of integrating AIM-120C7 on the F-35 Lightning II.
The AIM-120 AMRAAM is a 12-foot long missile with a 7-inch body and a 17-inch wingspan and weighs approximately 360 pounds. It’s range capabilities are classified.
Jennings calls ??the AIM-120 AMRAAM “the world’s most advanced air-to-air weapon.” He says more than 19,000 AMRAAM missiles have been manufactured to date and that 36 countries, including the U.S., use the missile as their primary air-to-air weapon.
Jennings adds the AMRAAM is a “dual-use” weapon also used in the surface launch role. “It is integrated on the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System and is the baseline missile for that system,” he points out.
When an AMRAAM is launched, its rocket motor fires and propels it to a very high speed (which is classified). In the initial stages of fly-out, the launch aircraft provides guidance via a datalink. After the missile gets further downrange, the AMRAAM turns on its internal radar system and proceeds to find its designated target. Once its target is acquired, it guides independently of the launch aircraft and completes the intercept on its own.
Jennings notes the AIM-120 AMRAAM has been operational for more than 20 years and has stayed at the forefront of air-to-air weapons.
“With unprecedented air combat flexibility, it gives aircrew the ability to launch well beyond visual range, in all weather conditions,” he says. “The AMRAAM has a multi-shot capability, meaning that several targets can be engaged simultaneously.”
Jennings adds that AMRAAM’s advanced guidance section incorporates digital technology and microminiaturized solid-state electronics, which gives the AMRAAM sophisticated guidance that sets it apart from all other air-to-air missiles. It also is fully reprogrammable and can be upgraded with software.
About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s the author of the historical mystery, Full Moon; the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert; and his newest historical mystery, Asylum Lane, all available at www.amazon.com.