Air Defense: February 1, 2005


Washington DC area commuters driving down Barton Parkway in Potomac, Maryland, couldnt help but notice what looked like a box like missile launcher on the grounds of the old Naval Surface Warfare Center. The launcher did not look like anything familiar. It was smaller than the four missile Patriot container, and appeared to be holding six, smaller, missiles. It turned out that NORAD (the North American Air Defense Command), was in charge of the launcher, and was not saying anything. However, a little research revealed that the mystery launcher was the surface-to-air version of the U.S. air-to-air AMRAAM missile. First developed by Norway, the system has been adopted by several other countries (including Spain and Kuwait). The U.S. Marines are developing their own version, called CLAWS. This system will have AMRAAMs fired from a launcher mounted on a hummer. The box launcher seen outside DC is from the Norwegian system (called NASAMS). The ground launched AMRAAM has a range of about twenty kilometers, and can hit targets as high as 13,000 feet. NASAMS was developed so that it could easily work with different search radars. The 350 pound AMRAAM SAM costs more (about $600,000 each) compared to the air-to-air version (about $380,000), but is basically the same missile. The twelve foot long AMRAAM has its own radar, for ensuring a hit once it has been guided to the vicinity of the target. The missile has a fifty pound warhead, and can take down just about anything that flies, including wide-body commercial transports. The AMRAAMs outside DC are apparently for defense against suicidal pilots, or any unauthorized aircraft in the area that refuse to leave restricted air space. 


Article Archive

Air Defense: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close