Iraq War: AMRAAM

AMRAAM Missile

Description: The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range, Air-to-Air missile is a new generation air-to-air missile, developed as the result of a joint agreement among the United States and its major allies.

Features: The AMRAAM has an all-weather, beyond-visual-range capability. It improves the aerial combat capabilities of U.S. and allied aircraft to meet the future threat of enemy air-to-air weapons. AMRAAM serves as a follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow missile series. The new missile is faster, smaller, and lighter, and has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. It also incorporates an active radar in conjunction with an inertial reference unit and micro-computer system, which makes the missile less dependent upon the fire-control system of the aircraft. Once the missile closes in on the target, its active radar guides it to intercept. This enables the pilot to aim and fire several missiles simultaneously at multiple targets and perform evasive maneuvers while the missiles guide themselves to the targets.

Background: The AIM-120 grew out of a joint agreement, no longer in effect, among the United States and several NATO nations to develop air-to-air missiles and to share the production technology.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Medium-range, air-to-air tactical missile
Contractor: Hughes/Raytheon
Power Plant: High performance, directed rocket motor
Length: 12 feet (3.6 meters)
Launch Weight: 335 pounds (150.75 kilograms)
Diameter: Seven inches (17.78 centimeters)
Wing Span: 21 inches (53.3 centimeters)
Speed: Supersonic
Warhead: Blast Fragmentation; high explosive
Unit Cost: $386,000
Date Deployed: September 1991
Aircraft platforms:
Navy: F-14D and F/A-18
Air Force: F-15 and F-16
NATO: German F-4, British Tornado and Sea Harrier