The final test firing of the AIM-120D-3 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile from a F-16 Fighting Falcon took place recently on the Eglin Test and Training Range. The final shot was one of several used to prove out the various air-to-air capabilities of the weapon on both Air Force and Navy aircraft. Over the course of the test program, the missile demonstrated the full range of its capabilities. The AIM-120D-3 is the latest AMRAAM variant. The missile’s design updates circuit card assemblies to address obsolescence under the Form, Fit, Function, Refresh (F3R) program. Completion of the live-fire event required close coordination between Team Eglin units and contractor personnel to ensure the aircraft, missile, airborne targets, and Eglin range safety and data collection systems were ready.
“The efforts of the combined test team led to the successful completion of test for one of the DoD’s most advanced air-to-air missiles. Time and again this team demonstrated the benefit of live-fire testing and the strength platform integration brings to weapons testing in an operationally relevant environment,” said Maj. Brian Davis, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron Air Dominance division chief.
“Flight test of the new AIM-120D-3 demonstrated the missile’s hardware and software capability improvements. I’m excited for our warfighters to have this newest variant of the AIM-120 missile in their arsenal,” said Col. Sean Bradley, Armament Directorate AMRAAM program manager.
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), is an American beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. It uses active transmit-receive radar guidance instead of semi-active receive-only radar guidance. It is a fire-and-forget weapon, unlike the previous generation Sparrow missiles which required full guidance from the firing aircraft. When an AMRAAM missile is launched, NATO pilots use the brevity code “Fox Three”. As of 2008 more than 14,000 had been produced for the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and 33 international customers. The AMRAAM has been used in several engagements, achieving 16 air-to-air kills in conflicts over Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, India, and Syria.
The AMRAAM AIM-120D-3 is on-track toward fielding by both the Air Force and Navy this year. The AIM-120D-3 features modernized hardware, including 15 upgraded circuit cards developed with model-based systems engineering initiatives under the Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R) program, and uses the latest System Improvement Program-3F software. The missile brings tremendous capability to counter both current and future threats and is postured to receive continuous Agile software enhancements through upcoming SIP efforts. The AIM-120D-3 Functional Configuration Audit follows a test program encompassing captive carry missions, platform bench testing and a series of live firings from multiple Air Force and Navy platforms – proving out the weapon’s effectiveness. F3R testing continues with the AIM-120 C-8 variant – designed for international customers — with FCA expected on that version later this year.