Raytheon has completed delivery of the 900 initial AIM-120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles that it will build for the Air Force and Navy, according to James Knox, Raytheon’s AMRAAM program manager. The C-7 variant has also just completed operational tests, following a series of 11 live shots flown in real-world scenarios out of Eglin AFB, Fla. and Pt. Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station in California. A further, undisclosed, number of C-7s has been ordered for USAF and Navy use, he said. AMRAAMs—called “Slammers” in fighter jock lingo—have racked up more than 1.7 million hours of captive-carry time, exceeding the original specification by 250 percent, Knox said. The US government has approved Greece and Taiwan for foreign military sales of the C-7, and other allied buys are likely. Additionally, the Army is looking at the C-7 version as a mobile air defense system to be mounted on Humvees. The missile would not require a booster for ground launch and would be identical to the air-carried model, Knox said. Raytheon is also well along in development of the AIM-120D, but the requirements for the missile are classified. Knox would only say it will have increased jam resistance because of a stiffening threat from adversary electronic attack systems. Although the dimensions of the AMRAAM body have remained constant, the fins have gotten smaller, range has been extended and processors completely redone over five major updates.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.