The Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-120 AMRAAM is follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow missile series. The missile can be launched in all weather, day or night. It is faster, smaller and lighter than AIM-7 and has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. It incorporates active radar 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 on a target, its active radar guides it to intercept. This enables the pilot to aim and fire several missiles simultaneously at multiple targets. The pilot may then perform evasive maneuvers while the missiles guide themselves to their targets.
In long-range engagements AMRAAM heads for the target using inertial guidance and receives updated target information via data link from the launch aircraft. It transitions to a self-guiding terminal mode when the target is within range of its own monopulse radar set. The AIM-120 also has a "home-on-jam" guidance mode to counter electronic jamming. Upon intercept an active-radar proximity fuze detonates the warhead to destroy the target. At closer ranges AMRAAM is able to guide itself using its own radar, freeing the launch aircraft to engage other targets.
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.
AMRAAM is managed as a joint program between the Air Force and Navy. The Air Force is the lead service headed by the Senior Materiel Leader, Air Dominance Division, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. AMRAAM is currently in the Production, Fielding/Deployment and Operational Support Phase of the Weapon System Acquisition Process. Air Force Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was declared in September 1991. Navy IOC was completed in September 1993.
To date, 36 countries have procured AMRAAM, enriching interoperability, ensuring commonality, and helping sustain strong overall logistic support.
Primary Function: Air-to-air missile
Contractor: Raytheon Missile Systems
Propulsion: Solid-fuel rocket motor
Length: 12 feet
Diameter: 7 inches
Wingspan: AIM-120A/B, 21 inches; AIM-120C/D, 19 inches
Weight: AIM-120A/B/C/C-4/ 348 pounds; AIM-120C5/6/7, 356 pounds; AIM-120D, 358 pounds
Guidance System: Active radar
Warhead: Blast fragmentation