Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Raytheon Launches First AMRAAM From F-35 And Gets New Missile Contract

An F-35A Lightning II successfully conducted its first in-flight launch of an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). A test missile was ejected and fired from the internal weapons bay.

The F-35A is the Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) version, one of three version of the F-35. The other two being the F-35B STOVL for the Marines and the F-35C CATOBAR for the Navy.

The AMRAAM is made by Raytheon, which this month received a $534.8 million contract for around 1800 AIM-120 missiles to be delivered by 2016. Around half of AMRAAM Production Lot 27 is destined for the US Air Force with the remaining half destined for the Air Forces of Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The AIM-120 AMRAAM is currently the main medium-range beyond visual range air-to-air missile being employed. Guided by an active seeker, it replaced the Sparrow missile that preceded it.

Another milestone reached this month by Raytheon is the delivery of 5000 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The AIM-9X entered operational service in 2003 in the United States and in 2005 in other countries.

Besides the US, the short-range, air-to-air AIM-9X is in service in nine other countries. Four other countries have ordered the AIM-9X, but have yet to receive their first missile.

The latest in a long line of Sidewinder missiles, the AIM-9X features thrust vectoring and a high off-bore-sight imaging infrared seeker. The current Block I will be succeeded by the Block II in 2014 with enhancements such as lock-on-after-launch (LOAL) capability.

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