New generation AMRAAM to boost Turkey’s air firepower
Advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) is also the baseline missile for the NATO-approved Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System.A new generation of advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) that Turkey will acquire from the United States will significantly upgrade and boost the country’s aerial firepower, according to Air Force officials.
“Perhaps the most important feature about the new weaponry is that they will be used both in our F-16 fighters and the future F-35s,” one senior official said.
A defense official said the new version features more sensitive guidance, adding to a fleet’s firepower.
This will be Turkey’s third order of the AMRAAM family of missiles. The first deliveries were made about a decade ago, while the second order is presently being delivered. A procurement official said the deliveries of the new-generation missiles could take a few years. Last month, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved a possible sale to Turkey for 145 AIM-120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and associated equipment. That sale would be worth an estimated $320 million.
Those missiles will be used on the Turkish Air Force’s fleet of F-16 fighters, although the DSCA notice adds that they could also be used on the country’s eventual F-35 fleet.
The weapons will help “maintain the TAF’s air-to-air capability to defend its extensive coastline and borders against future threat,” according to DSCA. Raytheon would produce the equipment.
The State Department’s clearance for the sale is subject to congressional approval and further negotiations between Turkey and the United States.
The AMRAAM is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-and-fit factors as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget missile with active guidance.
The AIM-120C-7 development began in 1998 and included improvements in homing and greater range. It was successfully tested in 2003 and is currently being produced for both the U.S. and other militaries.
It helped the U.S. Navy replace the F-14 Tomcats with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets – the loss of the F-14’s long-range AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, already retired, is offset with a longer-range AMRAAM-D. The lighter weight of the advanced AMRAAM enables an F/A-18E/F pilot greater bring-back weight upon carrier landings.