Raytheon Missile Systems (Stand 03-B07) has completed an extensive programme of wind tunnel testing for the extended-range version of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to- Air Missile (AMRAAM) as part of qualification for integration with the NASAMS surface-to-air missile system.
The new AMRAAM-ER variant introduces a larger rocket motor and new flight control algorithms to afford NASAMS a significantly expanded engagement envelope; according to Raytheon, the new missile offers a 50 per cent increase in maximum range, and a 70 per cent increase in altitude performance.
The NASAMS system, manufactured by Raytheon and Norwegian partner Kongsberg, is the most widely used short-and-medium-range air defence system in NATO. Employing the AMRAAM effector, NASAMS is a netted and distributed system built around multiple Sentinel X-band 3D radars and associated fire distribution centres (FDC).
With the HAWK medium-range guided missile system coming to the end of its life, a number of nations are examining requirements for a replacement capability. Raytheon believes it can provide a highly capable yet cost-effective solution by introducing the new AMRAAM-ER effector into the NASAMS system alongside the existing sensor and FDC building blocks.
As part of the AMRAAMER qualification programme, the missile aerodynamics were subjected to more than 1,700 rigorous wind tunnel tests, completing last month.
"During these tests, we put AMRAAM-ER through a full range of potential flight conditions to validate the missile's future performance on the battlefield," said Kim Ernzen, Raytheon's vice president for Air Warfare Systems.
Raytheon engineers will now analyse data from the wind tunnel test runs to verify and update the AMRAAM-ER missile's aerodynamic models to maximise its performance.