Air Weapons: Run Silent, But Not Blind


April 11, 2009: Britain and Spain recently ran a successful test, using  two Eurofighters cooperating electronically so that one aircraft used its radar to detect a target, and passed the data to another aircraft, which was running silent (no electronic transmissions, like radio or radar) which fired the AMRAAM missile that hit the target.

Such a tactic can be used effectively if the missile carrying aircraft remain silent, and more difficult to detect. The AMRAAM has its own, short range (about ten kilometers), radar, but it requires a longer range radar to provide the location (plus speed and direction) of the target. The missile can also be sent updates on where the target is. When the missile is close enough for its onboard radar to find the target, the AMRAAM makes its final approach.

If you can use more powerful ground or air (AWACS) radar to detect targets, you can keep your own AMRAAM carrying fighters silent and harder to detect, and thus able to get close enough to use the AMRAAM (the latest model of which has a range of about 100 kilometers). All this is part of an effort to give combat units battlefield Internet capabilities, enabling the easy and rapid exchange of information, to better know who is where, and be able to act on that knowledge quickly.


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