AMRAAM Surgery: Rocket Swap-Out Saves Time, Money

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C’mon baby, light my fire… U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) officials recently moved to shift serviceable rocket motors from older, first-generation AIM-120A AMRAAM air-air missiles and put them in unserviceable, but newer and more capable AIM-120B and C models, led by 435th Munitions Squadron Airmen. The missiles involved are part of USAFE’s war reserve assets, but also serve as a forward-positioned stockpile for the U.S. Central Command and elsewhere. The in-house weapon overhaul of 63 missiles saved the Air Force more than $31 million and approximately 3 years of time, and was the largest field retrofit in the AMRAAM’s history. The missiles are generally under warranty with Raytheon, so these kinds of operations are rare. Raytheon contractors worked with the 435th on the project, removing the AIM-120A rocket motors and providing them to Raytheon contractors to place in AIM-120B/C missile stocks. “The new-acquisition costs would have been considerable,” said Capt. Derek Plymate, 435th MUNS operations officer. “What we were able to complete in three weeks would have taken years if we had shipped them back stateside.” US Air Force Link: Missile overhaul creates big savings.

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