| Mission: 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.
AMRAAM program improves the aerial
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, F-16, F-22 and developmental F-35
and Navy F/A-18 C-F.
AMRAAM is a follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow missile series. The missile
is faster, smaller and lighter, and has improved capabilities against
low-altitude targets. It incorporates 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.
AMRAAM program completed its conceptual
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
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 full-scale developer.
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.
AMRAAM has three variants - AIM-120A/B/C -- operational on U.S. Air
Force F-15, F-16 and F-22 aircraft.