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IDEX: Wind Tunnel Testing Moves AMRAAM-ER Closer to Production

Joint production project by Raytheon and Kongsberg

Raytheon‘s combat-proven AMRAAM missile sets new standards for significanty enhanced capabilities in modern ground-based air defence. The manufacturer completed a series of more than 1,700 rigorous wind tunnel tests on the latest, extended-range version of the AMRAAM missile. The testing is described as a major step in the missile’s qualification for integration with the National/Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS). NASAMS, a joint production project by Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, is designed as a medium- to long-range air defence system to mainly defeat fast aircraft and missiles. Its networked and distributed nature makes the system a unique architecture to cope with the latest airborne threats. Monch readers might know that NASAMS is the first surface-based application for Raytheon’s AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile).

Now, Raytheon pitches AMRAAM-ER as a sophisticated ground-launched weapon system for intercepting modern airborne threats at significanty longer distances and higher altitudes. Raytheon, which first announced the development of the extended-range update to the NASAMS AMRAAM effector in February 2015, did not specify the missile’s combat range; but, today’s interceptors are very generally faced with increasingly manoeuvrable, agile, and small targets, as well as advanced enemy countermeasures that can complicate engagements.

Among this sort of airborne threats are ship-launched cruise missiles with land attack capability to name only one of the deadliest and most prolific. As the answer to this tough requirement, the AMRAAM-ER missile gets its boost in range from a bigger rocket motor and smarter flight control algorithms. During the recent wind tunnel tests, “we put AMRAAM-ER through the fill range of potential flight conditions to validate the missile’s future performance on the battlefield,” Raytheon explains. The company notes that it is developing the missile to enhance ground-based air defence for its customers worldwide. The next step is to analyse the wind tunnel tests to verify and update the missile’s aerodynamic models to maximise the performance of the AMRAAAM-ER missile.

Stefan Nitschke


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