Saturday, January 23, 2021

US To Upgrade Air-To-Air AMRAAM Missile That Famously Shot Down Abhinandan’s MiG-21 Bison

The American aerospace & defense electronics giant Raytheon Technologies has landed itself another contract worth $125-million for the up-gradation of AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

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The contract, like the earlier $62-billion deal with Lockheed Martin, is an IDIQ (indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity) agreement with a ceiling of $125 million to be sustained for the next four years.

“Raytheon Missiles Systems, Tucson, Arizona, has been awarded a ceiling $125,000,000 four-year, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA8675-20-D-0002) for the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) system improvement program. This contract provides for the delivery of software updates to the AMRAAM inventory,” read the press release.

According to the contract, Raytheon is expected to provide software upgrades to the missiles in Air Force inventory. “ Software development activities are expected to use a recognized agile framework consisting of government/Prime collaboration through repeatable increments of study, development, integration, test and capability demonstration,” it said.

The contract is a sole-source acquisition and the work would be performed in Raytheon’s facilities in Tucson, Arizona.

The company was also given a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract worth $52.2 million for the development of Operational Flight Software of the advanced AIM-9X Block-II short-range air-to-air missiles for the US Air Force, US Navy, and Foreign Military Sales customers.

“Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, Arizona, is awarded a $52,203,703 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.  This contract provides new software development, software risk reduction, existing software support, software improvements, and production integration planning” [for AIM-9X Block-II missiles], the release stated.

The AIM-120 AMRAAM

The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile is arguably the world’s most popular beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. It was used the first time in 1992 when a USAF F-16D shot down an Iraqi MiG-25 that violated the southern no-fly zone.

With an impressive track record since then, it has shot-down over 14 aircraft which include six MiG-29s, one MiG-25, one MiG-23, one Su-22, one Soko J-21 Jastreb, one UH-60 Black Hawk, one MiG-21, and two Su-24s.

abhinandan-iaf
Wax Statue of Abhinandan Varthaman

Famously, it was used during the 27th February Indo-Pakistani skirmishes, when AMRAAMs fired from PAF F-16s downed the MiG-21 Bison piloted by Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman.

However, the super maneuverable Su-30MKIs of the Indian Air Force reportedly managed to dodge the AIM-120s utilizing their electronic warfare pods and high-g maneuvers- a characteristic feature of Russian designed warplanes. This earned the name “AMRAAM Dodgers” and “Falcon Slayers” to the squadron.

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