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AIM-120 AMRAAM Slammer - Variants

Presently, there six series of AMRAAM: AIM-120A, AIM-120B, AIM-120C, AIM-120D, AMRAAM-ER, and SLAMRAAM/NASAMS.

  • AIM-120A.  First production AIM-120A, with a range of 55–75 km, delivered by Hughes in 1988 to the 33d TFW at Eglin AFB, Florida.
  • AIM-120B and AIM-120C versions are currently in production, the latter with smaller control surfaces to permit increased internal carriage capability in the F-22. AIM-120B deliveries began in FY 94, and AIM-120C deliveries began in FY 96.
  • AIM-120D The latest version of the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM), the AIM-120D, which reportedly has a range 50 percent greater than that of earlier AMRAAMs (increasing its range up to a reported 100 nm).
  • AMRAAM-ER Raytheon is developing an extended-range version of the AMRAAM for surface launchers
  • SLAMRAAM Surface Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM) is an important part of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems’ integrated air and missile defense systems. SLAMRAAM is the U.S. Army’s domestic variant of the NASAMS system.
  • P3I.  An improvement program seeks to develop AMRAAM capabilities, including software reprogrammability, advanced counter-countermeasures, and options for improved propulsion.

The AIM-120A is a non-reprogrammable missile (requires a hardware change to upgrade the missile software). The AIM-120B/C is reprogrammable through the missile umbilical using Common Field-level Memory Reprogramming Equipment (CFMRE). The AIM-120C has smaller aerosurfaces to enable internal carriage on the Air Force F-22 aircraft. The USAF All-Up-Round (AUR) container houses an internal cable which enables up to four missiles to be reprogrammed while in the container. USN containers are not equipped with the cable and must be opened to reprogram the missile. All three AMRAAM variants are currently approved for use on the F-15C/D/E, F-16C/D, and F/A-18C/D aircraft.

The AIM-120C variant with clipped wings was developed to reduce missile size in order to allow for increased internal carriage in the F/A-22. Lethality improvements have been incorporated into the missile, culminating in a new warhead and lengthened rocket motor. All current U.S. deliveries are of the AIM-120C configuration. The program's acquisition strategy is to improve missile capability incrementally through software and hardware modifications that are grouped in three pre-planned product improvement (P3I) phases, the first two of which have completed development and are fielded.

The third phase of the development program is underway to improve weapons system effectiveness and lethality. The Phase 3 missile, scheduled to begin production in FY04 as the AIM-120C-7, will include new guidance section hardware and software. The antenna, receiver, and signal processing portions of the system are being upgraded to handle the requirements to counter new threats, and will be compressed to create room for future growth. Some existing software will be re-hosted to a new higher-order language (C++), some existing software will be re-hosted and modified to function with the new hardware, and some additional software algorithms are being written to react to the new Phase 3 threats.

AMRAAM Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) missile deliveries began in FY 00. Under the PrePlanned Product Improvement approach, Phase 2 will incorporate a larger rocket motor, an improved warhead, a quadrant target detection device, an improved electronic safe/arm device and continuously refine the ability to counter threats through Operational Flight Program through the software. Major advantages include:

  • A larger rocket motor that will give the missile increased Pk with faster average terminal velocity and better end game capability against maneuvering threats.
  • An improved warhead that will give the missile an improved ability to kill the target.
  • A quadrant target detection device that will improve the warheads chance of destroying the target.
  • Software OFP's will improve the ability of the missile to detect, track and guide on the target.

The 1997 Omnibus bills took $15M from the 3600 funding thereby delaying critical improvements in ECCM. An OSD directive to upgrade air-to-air-ranges (NGTCS) Next Generation Target Control forced a $20M AMRAAM budget disconnect requiring the program redesign of the telemetry unit device for testing.

Under the Pre-Planned Product Improvement (P3I) approach, Phase 3 is designed to update the guidance control (seeker). Included with the new seeker, the software will also be continuously updated through Operational Flight Programs (OFP's). Major advantages include:

  • Improved missile guidance and Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) capability.
  • Ability to detect, track, and guide to future targets through additional signal path's, control functions, and processing capability.
  • Will provide near term improved capability and long term flexibility for threat expansion.
  • Will address further guidance control functions to counter current and future threats.

The 1997 Omnibus bills removed $15M from 3600 funding. This impacted the Phase 2 schedule which in turn delayed the Phase 3 work by one year. Without Phase 3, the AMRAAM will not be able to counter future threat aircraft or Electronic Counter Measures employed by the threat.

The 1995 AMRAAM COEA stated the +11" rocket motor was the best alternative at the time. Technology has continued to investigate propulsion alternatives. There are currently four different propulsion alternatives being evaluated. The Future Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (FMRAAM) being investigated by the United Kingdom was also an alternative to AMRAAM propulsion upgrade.

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