EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Aircraft missile experts at the Raytheon Co. are gearing-up to produce an upgraded version of the U.S. Air Force and Navy AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) to extend the missile’s lifetime well into the 2020s.
The latest version of the Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) will have an upgraded guidance section.
Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., announced nearly a half-billion-dollar order for a redesigned AMRAAM missile with a new guidance section.
The Air Force is awarding Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., a $523.1 million order for AMRAAM production lot 31, as well as for AMRAAM production lot 32 missiles and other AMRAAM system items. The contract involves foreign military sales to Japan, Kuwait, Poland, Indonesia, Qatar, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
AMRAAM lot 32 is expected to be the first batch of production missiles that integrate the Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R) of the AMRAAM guidance section.
The Air Force’s AMRAAM F3R project is a comprehensive effort to mitigate the effects of parts obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing sources in the missile’s guidance section to enable AMRAAM production beyond lot 31.
The Air Force and Navy AMRAAM is one of the nation’s most sophisticated radar-guided, air-to-air missiles, and one of the world’s most advanced all-weather, all-environment, medium-range, air-to-air missiles for engaging enemy aircraft and missiles from beyond visual ranges.
AMRAAM is an active radar-guided intercept missile with inherent electronic protection capabilities for air-to-air applications against massed penetration aircraft. AMRAAM has been in service since 1991, and was designed to replace the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile.
Raytheon won a $573 million order in March 2016 for AMRAAM lot 30 production. Each AMRAAM lot roughly consists of 400 to 500 missiles.
Mitigating the effects of obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing sources can involve the substantial redesign of subsystems by replacing electronic chips and other components that the original manufacturers no longer can produce.
In 2015, Raytheon experienced technical difficulties with the AMRAAM F3R application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, hardware integration, and guidance section performance demonstration, which delayed the program’s critical design review (CDR) for a year.
In January 2017, Raytheon officials announced a project to develop a new signal processor for the AMRAAM under the F3R project to help ensure AMRAAM production well into the 2020s. Air Force officials say they plan to cut F3R technology into the latter part of AMRAAM lot 31 production in 2019 or 2020.
On this order, Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz., and should be finished this month.