AIM-120 AMRAAM Missile
Advanced BVR Air-To-Air AMRAAM Missile By Raytheon
The AIM-120 AMRAAM missile is a combat-proven, radar-guided air-to-air BVR missile system used by the US Armed Forces, NATO, and other international customers. The AMRAAM stands for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.
The AIM-120 is an American beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile manufactured by Raytheon. It is a highly advanced air-superiority air combat BVR missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations.
The AMRAAM missile is the world’s most combat proven and popular beyond-visual-range BVR missile, used as a primary weapon system for very long distances beyond visual range engagement.
It is now in service with the US Air Force, the US Navy, and other international customers. For long-distance BVR engagements, it is regarded a highly effective weapon system against a wide spectrum of aerial targets such as UAVs and fighter jets.
Because of its combat record, the AMRAAM missile has earned a reputation. It is regarded as the gold standard in air-to-air weapon systems and provides unparalleled performance. Despite its modest size, the missile is packed with cutting-edge technology.
AIM-120 AMRAAM Missile General Features
AIM-120 AMRAAM Missile
Air-To-Air BVR Missile
157.8 kg , ( 348 lb )
3.65 Meters , ( 12 ft 0 inch )
17.8 cm , ( 7.0 inch )
$ 1.3 Million - AIM120 C5
$ 1.9 Million - AIM120 C8
High Explosive Blast-Fragmentation
Radar Guided - Impact
Solid-Fuel Rocket Motor
80 Km To 160 Km
No Escape Zone
Inertial Guidance, Mid-course Update via Two-Way Datalink, Terminal Active Radar Homing
Over Mach 4
AMRAAM Missile Two-Way Data Link
The AIM-120 missile is propelled by a solid-fueled rocket motor that launches the missile at speeds exceeding Mach 4. The rocket motor supplies the missile with the thrust and mid-course acceleration needed to successfully pursue and intercept the target.
Another critical element of the AMRAAM missile is its two-way data link. It enables the pilot to track the trajectory of the missile after it has been launched. The encrypted data-link enables the pilot to precisely direct the missile. The pilot can even update the target mid-course and divert the missile to lock on to the new target.
AIM-120 Missile Advanced Features
The AIM-120 AMRAAM is one of the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air superiority air-to-air weapon systems. It is a highly refined product with more than 30 years of design, upgrades, testing, and production efforts.
The AIM-120 missile continues to be the preferred aerial combat weapon of choice for many air forces across the globe. Its combat performance and kill capabilities have been fully demonstrated in over 4,900 test shots and combat victories scored during actual aerial engagements in armed conflicts.
AMRAAM Development History
The US Air Force sensed the necessity for a long-range air dominance weapon system due to fast developments in fighter jet technology. The AMRAAM missile project is a collaboration between the United States and NATO countries.
It was created as a result of an agreement between the United States and many other NATO countries to develop air-to-air missiles and share production technologies.
According to this agreement, the United States was tasked with creating the next generation medium-range missile (AMRAAM) with beyond visual range (BVR) capability with a range of up to 120 km.
Europe, on the other hand, assigned to build the next generation short-range missile (ASRAAM) with a range of up to 60 kilometres.
The AMRAAM project met its objectives and finished in December 1981 with a successful launch demonstration of flight testing. Hughes Aircraft’s Missile System Group was chosen as the missile’s full-scale development.
Raytheon was later picked as a successor manufacturer. Both companies were given the AIM-120 manufacturing contract in 1987. During the development phase flight tests, more than 200 missiles were fired to validate the missile performance.
Following that, other variations of the AMRAAM were developed, incorporating more advanced technology and offering very long-range BVR capability.
As of now, AMRAAM have been manufactured in four variants.
AIM-120A And AIM-120B Variants
The AIM-120A was the first variant, and this variant is no longer in service or production. The AIM-120B was the next improved variant introduced in 1994, and it is being phased out. The AIM-120A and AIM-120B models have reached the end of their service life.
The AIM-120C variant was specifically designed for the F22 Raptor. It has smaller control surfaces to enable internal carriage on the F/A-22 aircraft and carries an improved warhead. The AIM-120C was further upgraded to create a new variant called the AIM-120C-7, which was successfully tested in 2003.
The AMRAAM AIM-120D is the newest member of the family. In May 2009, the version completed its seventh test flight, integrating updated hardware and software capabilities for increased navigation, range, and HOBS (High-Angle Off-Boresight) performance.
The AIM-120D variant’s Follow-On Operational Test and Evaluation FOT&E was completed successfully in July 2014. By October 2014, the US Air Force and Navy had received a total of 1,031 AIM-120D missiles.
AIM-120 ER Extended Range Variant
The AIM-120 ER AMRAAM-Extended Range Missile is the latest variant specially designed for ground-launched air defense solutions to intercept targets at longer distances and higher altitudes.
The AMRAAM-ER missile managed to achieve the extended range due to the integration of Raytheon’s Evolved Sea Sparrow missile ESSM® missile rocket motor and smarter flight control algorithms.
The AMRAAM-ER missile has been designed specifically for ground-based air defense systems; it will be integrated into the NASAMS launcher to further enhance air defense protection for long-distance engagements.