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USAF, Raytheon ready AIM-120D-3 for guided live-fire test campaign

A US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet multirole combat aircraft testbed conducts a safe separation launch with an AIM-120D-3 AMRAAM variant over Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California on 12 May, 2021. (US Navy)

The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, in association with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, is preparing for a series of air-launched guided live-fire trials of the new variant AIM-120D-3 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

“The live-fire test campaign will begin in February 2022 with the work-up missions,” a Raytheon spokesperson told Janes . “There are five live fires as part of this campaign and these are scheduled for Q2–Q4 2022, with current planning to shoot from the [US Air Force] F-15E Strike Eagle and [US Navy] F/A-18F [Super Hornet] platforms.”

The AIM-120D-3 delivers a significant capability upgrade through the Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R) programme – a comprehensive AMRAAM Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages project, designed to mitigate systemic hardware obsolescence issues in the AIM-120D's guidance section, and sustain AMRAAM missile production beyond Lot 32, awarded in March 2018.

In addition to the F3R hardware upgrade, the AIM-120D-3, along with the standard AIM-120D, also benefits from enhancements introduced through the AIM-120 AMRAAM System Improvement Program (SIP) – a weapon software tape upgrade series enabled by the F3R's significantly augmented processing power and structured to deliver increased performance enhancements, including radar performance to counter emerging threats employing advanced electronic attack.

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