Air Weapons: AMRAAM For Allies

Archives

September 18, 2011: The U.S. has ordered 437 AMRAAM radar guided air-to-air missiles, to be produced in the next year. Most (234) are the latest version, the AIM-120D. The rest are the older, AIM-120C7, version. Most of these are for foreign customers. Since it entered service two decades ago, over 40 air forces have bought AMRAAM.

AMRAAM entered service in 1992, more than 30 years after the first radar guided air-to-air missile (the AIM-7 Sparrow). AMRAAM was meant to succeed where the AIM-7 didn’t. Vietnam, in the 1960s, provided ample evidence that AIM-7 wasn't really ready for prime time. Too many things could go wrong. Several versions later, the AIM-7 got another combat test during the 1991 Gulf War. In combat, 88 AIM 7s were launched, with 28 percent scoring a hit. The AIM 9 Sidewinder did worse, with 97 fired and only 12.6 percent making contact. That said, most of these hits could not have been obtained with cannon, especially when the AIM 7 was used against a target that was trying to get away.

AMRAAM was designed to fix all the reliability and ease-of-use problems that cursed the AIM-7. But AMRAAM has only had a few opportunities to be used in combat, and over half of those launched have hit something. The 120D version entered service four years ago and has longer range and greater accuracy and resistance to countermeasures. So far, AMRAAMs have spent over 1.7 million hours hanging from the wings of jet fighters in flight. Some 2,400 AMRAAMs have been fired, mostly in training or testing operations. That’s about a quarter of those produced.

AMRAAM weighs 172 kg (335 pounds), is 3.7 meters (12 feet) long and 178mm (7 inches) in diameter. AMRAAM has a max range of 70 kilometers. These missiles cost about a million dollars each. The missiles are complex mechanical, electronic and chemical systems, and each of them, on average, suffers a component failure every 1,500 hours.

 


Article Archive

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


X

ad
0
20

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