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AIM-120 AMRAAM Slammer - History

The AIM-120 grew out of a joint agreement, no longer in effect, among the United States and several NATO nations to develop air-to-air missiles and to share the production technology. The AMRAAM program was established as a result of Joint Service Operational Requirement for an Advanced Air-to-Air Tactical Missile needed in the post-1985 time frame. The AMRAAM program began with a 1975 study which recommended that future aerial threats be engaged at 3-40 miles of range.

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 full-scale developer.

AMRAAM is currently in the Production, Fielding/Deployment and Operational Support Phase of the Weapon System Acquisition Process. Air Force Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was declared in September 1991. Navy IOC was completed in September 1993.

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, NM; and Point Mugu, CA. Testing was accomplished in a combined Developmental Test and Evaluation and Initial Operational Test and Evaluation program. Successful Navy operational testing on the F/A-18C/D aircraft was conducted by Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force during FY94 and included an evaluation of the missile system's effectiveness and suitability, maintainability, and supportability in the Navy operational environment.

The missile is operational on U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft. The Navy began receiving AIM-120A deliveries in 1991, but delayed Fleet introduction until integration with the F/A-18 aircraft was completed in 1993. Fleet introduction coincided with F/A-18 IOC when CV/CVN load-outs began to include AIM-120A. AMRAAM is combat tested, scoring two kills during Operation Southern Watch, and one kill in Bosnia.

In April 1998 Air Force officials announced the twelfth award to Raytheon Systems Company for the production of 813 additional Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. The total contract value is $243 million. The Lot 12 purchase includes 173 missiles for the Air Force, 120 for the Navy and an additional 520 for foreign customers. Historically, AMRAAM production awards were accomplished under a competitive, dual-source strategy with Hughes Missile Systems Company, Tucson, Ariz., and Raytheon Electronic Systems, Bedford, Mass., as the prime contractors. When Raytheon and Hughes Missile Company merged, forming the current Raytheon Systems Company, a single prime contractor, the government implemented a new strategy called AMRAAM Vision 2000. With Vision 2000, the government shifted toward a more commercial business arrangement with the contractor. Capitalizing on the efficiencies of a single prime contractor, the Air Force and the Navy recognized savings in excess of $150 million, resulting from a drop in unit price from $340,000 in Lot 11 to $299,000 in Lot 12.

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