The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) is a new generation
air-to-air missile. It has an all-weather, beyond-visual-range capability and is scheduled
to be operational beyond 2000. The AMRAAM is being procured for the Air Force, U.S. Navy
and America's allies.
The AMRAAM program improves the aerial combat capabilities of U.S. and allied aircraft to
meet current and future threat of enemy air-to-air weapons. AMRAAM is compatible with the
Air Force F-15
and developmental F-22
; Navy F-14
and F/A-18 C/D
; German F-4 and the British Sea Harrier
AMRAAM is a follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow
series. The missile is faster, smaller and lighter, and has improved capabilities against
low-altitude targets. It incorporates an active radar with an inertial reference unit and
micro-computer system, which makes the missile less dependent upon the fire-control system
of the aircraft. Once the missile closes on a target, its active radar guides it to
intercept. This enables the pilot to aim and fire several missiles simultaneously at
multiple targets. The pilot may then perform evasive maneuvers while the missiles guide
themselves to their targets.
The AMRAAM program completed its conceptual phase in February 1979 when the U.S. Air Force
selected two of five competing contractors, Hughes Aircraft Co. and Raytheon Co., to
continue into the validation phase.
During the 33-month validation phase the contractors continued missile development by
building actual hardware to demonstrate their technological concepts. The program phase
concluded in December 1981 after both contractors demonstrated that their flight-test
missiles could satisfy Air Force and Navy requirements. The Air Force competitively
selected Hughes Aircraft Co.'s Missile System Group, Canoga Park, Calif., as the
During the full-scale development phase, Hughes Aircraft Co. completed missile development
and Raytheon was selected as a follower producer. A production contract to both vendors
was awarded in 1987. More than 200 of the test missiles were launched during flight tests
at Eglin AFB, Fla.; White Sands Missile Range, N.M.; and Point Mugu, Calif. AMRAAM is
combat tested, scoring two kills during Operation Southern Watch, and one kill in Bosnia.
The missile is operational on U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft.
||Air-to-air tactical missile
||Hughes Aircraft Co. and Raytheon Co.
||Active radar terminal/inertial midcourse
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