Raytheon has completed wind tunnel testing on the new extended-range (ER) variant of the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM).

Over 1,700 rigorous wind tunnel tests were conducted on the ground-launched AMRAAM-ER missile so far.

Completion of the wind tunnel testing marks a huge step forward for the missile’s qualification for integration with the national advanced surface-to-air missile system (NASAMS) launcher.

It also moves the new weapon closer to production, which will provide troops with an enhanced ground-based air defence capability.

Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Kim Ernzen said: “During these tests, we put AMRAAM-ER through a full range of potential flight conditions to validate the missile’s future performance on the battlefield.

“Featuring ‘bigger’ rocket motor and smarter flight control algorithms, the AMRAAM-ER missile is designed to intercept targets at longer distances and higher altitudes.”

“Raytheon is developing this missile to enhance ground-based air defence for our customers worldwide.”

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During testing, Raytheon engineers gathered data that will now be analysed to validate and modernise the AMRAAM-ER missile’s aerodynamic models to boost its performance.

Featuring ‘bigger’ rocket motor and smarter flight control algorithms, the AMRAAM-ER missile is designed to intercept targets at longer distances and higher altitudes.

It is set to expand the NASAMS engagement envelope with a 50% increase in maximum range and 70% increase in maximum altitude.

NASAMS is jointly manufactured by Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. It helps identify, engage and destroy threats such as aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and emerging cruise missile threats.

The surface-based short and medium-range air defence system is widely used in Nato and is also currently in production for Oman.

In October 2016, the AMRAAM-ER missile was flight-tested from the NASAMS. It completed extensive lab testing in 2015.