AMRAAM: Deploying & Developing America’s Medium-Range Air-Air Missile
November 29/18: NASAMS Qatar is requesting the purchase of a National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) from the US. The $215 million deal has been approved by the State Department and pending approval by Congress. If approved the deal will see for the procurement of 40 AIM 120C-7 AMRAAM missiles, one spare missile guidance section, one spare control section and eight captive air training missiles. NASAMS is a medium-range, network-centric air defence system that can be deployed to identify and engage enemy aircraft, and to protect high-value assets and mass population centres against air-to-surface threats. The AIM 120C-7 is the most advanced AMRAAM approved for export beyond the USA. It features an improved seeker head, greater jamming resistance, and a slightly longer range than other versions. Other items including in the contract are missile containers, software for the AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel Radar, spares and other equipment and services. Main contractor will be Raytheon.
Raytheon’s AIM-120 Advanced, Medium-Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) has become the world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles, and is also beginning to make inroads within land-based defense systems. It was designed with the lessons of Vietnam in mind, and of local air combat exercises like ACEVAL and Red Flag. This DID FOCUS article covers successive generations of AMRAAM missiles, international contracts and key events from 2006 onward, and even some of its emerging competitors.
One of the key lessons learned from Vietnam was that a fighter would be likely to encounter multiple enemies, and would need to launch and guide several missiles at once in order to ensure its survival. This had not been possible with the AIM-7 Sparrow, a “semi-active radar homing” missile that required a constant radar lock on one target. To make matters worse, enemy fighters were capable of launching missiles of their own. Pilots who weren’t free to maneuver after launch would often be forced to “break lock,” or be killed – sometimes even by a short-range missile fired during the last phases of their enemy’s approach. Since fighters that could carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 tended to be larger and more expensive, and the Soviets were known to have far more fighters overall, this was not a good trade.
Some MRAAM History, and AMRAAM’s Design Approach
Customers & Performance
AMRAAM: Upgrades & Derivatives
Other AMRAAM-Related Systems
AMRAAM’s International Competitors
AMRAAM Program: Technical Challenges
AMRAAM: Contracts & Key Events
FY 2015 – 2018
FY 2005 and Earlier (Partial)
Additional Readings & Sources: Current Missiles
Additional Readings & Sources
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