Tag Archives: AIM-120 AMRAAM

[Video] One day in the life of an F-16 pilot: low flying, live firing, anti-ship training

Join Norwegian Air Force pilot Morten Hanche, call-sign “Dolby” from the 338 Sqdn based at Ørland Main Air Station, Norway, on a training sortie featuring low flying, live firing activity and simulated attacks against the Navy ship.

Here’s an interesting video, shot from the cockpit of a Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16A MLU from 338 Sqn, showing a mission flown with AIM-120B AMRAAM, AIM-2000 IRIS-T, GBU-54 JDAM from Ørland Main Air Station.

The mission features low level flying over Eikesdalvatnet, live firing of an IRIS-T against a Banshee drone over the Halten shootingrange, ultra-low level flying over the sea for a simulated attack on a warship, and return to base in formation with another “Viper.”

H/T to Matt Fanning and Lars-Gunnar Holmström for the heads-up


[Photo] F-22 Raptor stealth fighter fires AIM-9 Sidewinder missile

You don’t happen to see such photos too often.

Most of the images you can find online showing a F-22 stealth fighter firing a missile either depict a Raptor prototype or the air-to-air missile is an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile).

That’s why the image on top is interesting: shot in 2009, it shows a F-22 Raptor 4007 launching an AIM-9L Sidewinder missile during a test at Edwards AFB, California.

The photo shows also the open side bay door housing the canted trapeze that the F-22 Raptors use to put the AIM-9 Sidewinder seeker into the airstream: indeed, stealth jets rely on weapons bay to carry bombs and missiles and preserve low-observability.

Although the missile in the picture is an AIM-9L, in the future, U.S. Air Force Raptors should be able to carry the AIM-9X Block II which features the Lock On After Launch capability meaning that the bay doors remain open just the time it is needed to eject the missile into the airstream.

The image below shows an F-22 launching an AIM-9M missile.

F-22 missile upper view

Top image credit: Darin Russell via Lockheed Martin; below U.S. Navy.

Interstingly, the second prototype of China’s J-20 Stealth Jet was spotted testing a missile deployment device on the side weapons bay which extracts the selected air-to-air missile and then closes the door to keep the reduced RCS.


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[Photo] F-35 performs first AIM-120 missile launch

On Jun. 5, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft completed the first in-flight missile launch of an AIM-120 C5 AAVI (AMRAAM Air Vehicle Instrumented) over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range.

According to the U.S. Air Force’s statement: “It was the first launch where the F-35 and AIM-120 demonstrated a successful launch-to-eject communications sequence and fired the rocket motor after launch — paving the way for targeted launches in support of the Block 2B fleet release capability later this year.”

F-35 first AIM-120

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

The first AIM-120 launch is just the last of a series of events that have marked the development of the F-35 in the last years, which included the beginning of pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the delivery of the first operational test aircraft to Edwards, Nellis Air Force Base, the induction of the world’s first JSF operational squadron at Yuma, the first operational aerial refueling, the (unimpressive) high angle of attack testing, a series of engine problems, the beginning of the “maneuverability dispute.”

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Lockheed awarded $6.9 billion upgrade “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity” contract to make the F-22 Raptor a real multirole fighter jet

The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling of $6.9 billion to upgrade the service’s fleet of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.

Lockheed said that “The Air Force uses this to authorize the Incremental Modernization capability efforts such as Increment 3.1, Increment 3.2A and Increment 3.2B”

“F-22 modernization provides upgrades that ensures the Raptor maintains air dominance against an ever advancing threat – with capabilities such as advanced weapons, multi-spectral sensors, advanced networking technology and advanced anti-jamming technology.”

F-22 Nellis

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Under increment 3.1 upgrade the fleet of radar evading 5th generation planes will get synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with ground mapping capability as well as the ability to carry eight 113kg (250lb) Small diameter bombs, in 2014; the increment 3.2A will see additional electronic protection measures and upgrades to the Link-16 data link system and its ability to work with the jets sensor suite.

In 2017, increment 3.2B will see the software and hardware upgrade to allow the Raptor to use the AIM-120D and AIM-9X missile systems, although a limited ability will be added before this date.

The use of the AIM-9X with an Helmet Mounted Display (initially not implemented on the plane) would give the F-22 an HOBS (High-Off Bore Sight) capability currently lacking.

Further upgrades as part of 3.2B will see further improvements to the electronic protection system and an upgrade to the aircraft geo-location system.

Increment 3.3 is in the pipelines but will be funded from another proposal at a later date and no further details as to what this will actually be is available.

The upgrades will give the costly and troubled stealth fighter, whose dominance of the skies has been debated since the Eurofighter Typhoons involved in the Red Flag Alaska exercise last year achieved some (simulated) Raptor kills, the capability to perform effectively in both air-to-air and air-to-surface missions.

Something the F-35 should sometime do as well.

David Cenciotti has contributed to this post

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New (still quite secret) Hit-to-Kill missile for the F-35 unveiled: the Lockheed Martin “Cuda”

Until a photo with an interesting caption appeared on the November 2012 issue of Air Force Magazine, few people had noticed that an F-35 display model at the Air Force Association Technology Expo 2012, had its weapon bays loaded with a brand new type of air-to-air missile: the Lockheed Martin “Cuda”.

Image credit: Air Force Magazine

“A Lockheed Martin model shows how its “’Cuda” concept for a small AMRAAM-class radar guided dogfight missile could triple the air-to-air internal loadout on an F-35. The missile is about the size of a Small Diameter Bomb and fits on an SDB-style rack.”

Photo caption aside, almost nothing is known about the “Cuda” missile.

“We are having some challenges getting information on Cuda cleared for public release,” Cheryl Amerine, Cuda POC at the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told The Aviationist.

“Cuda is a Lockheed Martin multi-role Hit-to-Kill (HTK) missile concept.  Lockheed Martin has discussed the missile concept with the United States Air Force. The Cuda concept significantly increases the internal carriage capacity for 5th generation fighters (provides 2X to 3X capacity).  Combat proven HTK  technology has been in the US Army for over a decade.  Bringing this proven HTK technology to the USAF will provide potentially transformational new capabilities and options for new CONOPS.”

The Hit-to-Kill missile technology Lockheed is designing for the USAF is still classified and some of the capabilities of the Cuda missile are being reviewed for public release. Still, something can be said based on the few details available.

First of all, the F-35 will carry kinetic energy interceptors: “hit-to-kill” weapons rely on the kinetic energy of the impact to destroy their target. That’s why some HTK missiles don’t carry any warhead (others use a lethality enhancer warhead).

Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin

HTK technologies can be used for missile defense (Scuds, rockets or even ballistic missiles). Is someone at the Pentagon studying the possibilty to use F-35s carrying clusters of Cudas as aerial anti-missile systems to intercept small rockets, SAMs (surface-to-air missiles)?

Second, that unlike Sidewinders, Cuda missiles, rather than being equipped with an IIR (Imaging Infra Red) seeker, will be radar-guided. This means they will be ejected from the internal bays in such a way the exposure of the stealth plane is reduced.

Third, the possible integration of the Cuda with the F-22: since a Raptor can carry eight SDB, it can theoretically carry up to eight Cuda, even if the perfect air-to-air loadout could be mix of AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9X and Cuda missiles.


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