An extended-range version of the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) has successfully cleared lab testing, and will be ready for live-fire demonstrations and flight tests by the end of 2015, defense contractor Raytheon announced Wednesday. The new AMRAAM-ER missile is expected to provide the U.S. Army with a “robust” ground-based air defense.
The AMRAAM is a guided missile that can hit targets invisible to fighter jets or ground-based launchers. The missile is currently used by 36 countries on several fighter jets, including the F-16, F-15, F/A-18, F-22, Typhoon, Gripen, Tornado, Harrier, F-4, and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
“The tests validate that AMRAAM-ER can be integrated and employed from the NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) launcher,” Raytheon said, in a statement. “Designed specifically for ground-based air defense, AMRAAM-ER will be combined with AN/MPQ-64 F1Sentinel radar and the NASAMS launcher to provide increased air defense protection in the medium range air defense market.”
According to the defense contractor, the AMRAAM-ER is integrated with the rocket motor of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, a surface-to-air missile system, enabling the new missile to intercept targets at longer ranges and higher altitudes.
NASAMS, on the other hand, is claimed to be the most modern medium-range air defense system, and one of the most commonly used missile systems by NATO. It provides the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles, according to Raytheon.
“AMRAAM-ER significantly expands the capability of our proven ground-based air defense system,” Mike Jarrett, vice president of air warfare systems at Raytheon, said in the statement. “The new surface-launched missile will be even faster and more maneuverable than the current AMRAAM.”
Wednesday’s announcement comes months after the U.S. Air Force signed a $529 million deal with Raytheon for the production of new AMRAAM missiles. In May, Lockheed Martin was awarded with a $174 million contract to produce long-range, surface-to-surface missiles called “Army Tactical Missile System” (ATACMS) for the U.S. Army and the United Arab Emirates.