The Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) joint program office completed the second live fire test of the new AIM-120D-3 missile variant, incorporating upgraded hardware into the guidance section on May 12. Preliminary analysis provided by the prime contractor, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, indicates all primary and secondary objectives of the shot were met. The weapon safely launched from an F/A-18F Super Hornet and flew the expected flight path over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California.
Combined with software upgrades, AIM-120D-3 will deliver advanced capabilities to improve missile effectiveness against advanced threats for Air Force, Navy, and Allied Partners. This missile shot from an F/A-18F Super Hornet tested the missile’s safe separation autopilot and free-flight navigation capabilities. Together, with the first shot on December 9, 2020, these shots represent a critical first in a series of developmental flight tests that provides crucial data to assess the missile’s ability to acquire, track and guide to targets.
“Completing the first two free flight shots of upgraded hardware and software is a significant milestone in the integration and test phase of the new AIM-120D-3 missile,” said Col. Sean Bradley, AMRAAM Senior Materiel Leader at the U.S. Air Force’s Armament Directorate. “These successes are important to the overall execution of the Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R) program; a program implemented to address an increasing number of production challenges due to obsolescence of various electronic components within the AIM-120.”
AMRAAM is the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air dominance weapon. With AIM-120D-3 production deliveries beginning in 2023, the AIM-120 missile will continue to meet warfighter requirements in all weather and beyond visual range engagements. The missile is utilized on U.S. Air Force F-15, F-16 and F-22 aircraft and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ F/A-18 and EA-18G and AV-8B aircraft. It will also be employed on the F-35 Lightning II when it becomes operational. Its capabilities have been fully demonstrated in over 4,900 test shots and more than 13 air-to-air combat victories.