Air Defense: SLAMRAAM Gets Self-Destruct


July 31, 2006: The U.S. Army is adding a disarm/self-destruct feature to its SLAMRAAM anti-aircraft missiles. The army introduced SLAMRAAM in 2002. This is basically four or six AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles mounted on a hummer, along with a radar and fire control equipment (on a separate vehicle). The missile has a range of 25 kilometers, and can use data from other radars to find its target.
The AMRAAM is the most modern air-to-air missile in American service, and has its own radar for making its final approach to its target. SLAMRAAM has been seen deployed around Washington DC, for the last two years as a defense against any terrorist aircraft attempting to attack. The new self-destruct features will enable the operator to either disarm the warhead, or cause the missile to explode, if it appears to be going somewhere the operator doesn't want it to go. The new changes also make it possible for the operator to have the warhead disarmed after the missile has gone a certain distance. All of these changes are intended to reduce the danger to civilians when SLAMRAAM is used in densely populated areas (like Washington, and other cities SLAMRAAM units have been stationed in for protection from terrorist attacks.)
The SLAMRAAM concept was first developed by Norway. The system has been adopted by several other countries (including Spain and Kuwait). The U.S. Marines developed their own version, called CLAWS. A box launcher is used by the Norwegian system (called NASAMS). The ground launched AMRAAM 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.


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