The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of air-to-air missiles to Australia worth an estimated $1.22 billion, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Monday after notifying Congress of the possible deal.
The Australian government has requested up to 450 advanced medium-range AIM-120D air-to-air missiles manufactured by Raytheon. The so-called AMRAAM missiles would be used by the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18, E/A-18G and F-35 aircraft, the DSCA statement said.
The government also requested related equipment and support. The estimated value of the total defense equipment is $1.08 billion and the total value of the deal was put at $1.22 billion.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping improve the security of a strategic partner and major contributor to political stability, security and economic development in the Pacific region and globally,” the statement said.
The sale would not alter the military balance of the region, DSCA said.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
The AIM-120D is an upgraded version of the AMRAAM with improvements in almost all areas, including 50% greater range (than the already-extended range AIM-120C-7) and better guidance over its entire flight envelope yielding an improved kill probability (Pk). Raytheon began testing the D model on August 5, 2008, the company reported that an AIM-120D launched from an F/A-18F Super Hornet passed within lethal distance of a QF-4 target drone at the White Sands Missile Range.
The AIM-120D (P3I Phase 4, formerly known as AIM-120C-8) is a development of the AIM-120C with a two-way data link, more accurate navigation using a GPS-enhanced IMU, an expanded no-escape envelope, improved HOBS (High-Angle Off-Boresight) capability, and a 50% increase in range. The AIM-120D is a joint USAF/USN project, and is currently in the testing phase. The USN was scheduled to field it from 2014, and AIM-120D will be carried by all Pacific carrier groups by 2020, although the 2013 sequestration cuts could push back this later date to 2022.
There are also plans for Raytheon to develop a ramjet-powered derivative of the AMRAAM, the Future Medium Range Air-Air Missile (FMRAAM). It is not known whether the FMRAAM will be produced since the target market, the British Ministry of Defence, has chosen the Meteor missile over the FMRAAM for a BVR missile for the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
AIM-120D as indicated on missile
Raytheon is also working with the Missile Defense Agency to develop the Network Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE), an anti-ballistic missile derived from the AIM-120. This weapon will be equipped with a Ramjet engine and an infrared homing seeker derived from the Sidewinder missile. In place of a proximity-fused warhead, the NCADE will use a kinetic energy hit-to-kill vehicle based on the one used in the Navy’s RIM-161 Standard Missile 3.
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