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AIM-120 AMRAAM Slammer

The AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) is a new generation air-to-air missile. The AMRAAM is a guided missile capable of hitting targets out-of-sight of firing aircraft or ground-based launchers. By 2015 AMRAAM was used by 36 countries on a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F-22 and F-35. It has an all-weather, beyond-visual-range capability.

AMRAAM is a supersonic, air launched, aerial intercept, guided missile employing active radar target tracking, proportional navigation guidance, and active Radio Frequency (RF) target detection. It employs active, semi-active, and inertial navigational methods of guidance to provide an autonomous launch and leave capability against single and multiple targets in all environments.

The AMRAAM weighs 340 pounds and uses an advanced solid-fuel rocket motor to achieve a speed of Mach 4 and a range in excess of 30 miles. In long-range engagements AMRAAM heads for the target using inertial guidance and receives updated target information via data link from the launch aircraft. It transitions to a self-guiding terminal mode when the target is within range of its own monopulse radar set.

The AIM-120 also has a "home-on-jam" guidance mode to counter electronic jamming. With its sophisticated avionics, high closing speed, and excellent end-game maneuverability, chances of escape from AMRAAM are minimal. Upon intercept an active-radar proximity fuze detonates the 40-pound high-explosive warhead to destroy the target. At closer ranges AMRAAM guides itself all the way using its own radar, freeing the launch aircraft to engage other targets.

The AMRAAM is being procured for the Air Force, US 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. The Air Force and Navy, as well as several foreign military forces, use the AIM-120. Currently employed by the F-15C, F-15E, F-16, F/A-18C/D, and F/A-18E/F, AIM-120 will also be employed by the F/A-18E/F, F/A-22, and Joint Strike Fighter. A small number of AMRAAMs were carried by F-15 aircraft during Operation Desert Storm, though none were used. The AIM-120 was redeployed to the Persian Gulf in 1992 for use on F-15 and F-16 fighters. In December 1992 an F-16 pilot fired the first AMRAAM in actual combat, shooting down a MiG-25 Foxbat during a confrontation over southern Iraq.

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 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.

AMRAAM is managed as a joint Air Force and Navy program. The Air Force, as executive service, established a Joint System Program Office (JSPO) at Air Force Material Command/Aeronautical Systems Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The JSPO is headed by the Air Force Deputy for AMRAAM (Code ASC/YA) and the Navy AMRAAM Program Manager, Air (PMA268).

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Page last modified: 19-08-2019 16:20:35 ZULU