The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM (pronounced am-ram), is a modern Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM) capable of all weather day and night performance.

The AMRAAM weighs 340 pounds and uses an advanced solid-fuel rocket motor to achieve a speed of Mach 4 and a range in excess of 30 miles. In long-range engagements AMRAAM heads for the target using inertial guidance and receives updated target information via data link from the launch aircraft.


It transitions to a self-guiding terminal mode when the target is within range of its own monopulse radar set. The AIM-120 also has a "home-on-jam" guidance mode to counter electronic jamming. With its sophisticated avionics, high closing speed, and excellent end-game manoeuvrability, chances of escape from AMRAAM are minimal.

Upon intercept an active-radar proximity fuse detonates the 40-pound high-explosive warhead to destroy the target. At closer ranges AMRAAM guides itself all the way using its own radar, freeing the launch aircraft to engage other targets.

AMRAAM is a follow-on to the AIM-7 Sparrow missile series. The missile is faster, smaller and lighter, and has improved capabilities against low-altitude targets. It incorporates an active radar with an inertial reference unit and micro-computer system, which makes the missile less dependent upon the fire-control system of the aircraft.

Once the missile closes on a target, its active radar guides it to intercept. This enables the pilot to aim and fire several missiles simultaneously at multiple targets. The pilot may then perform evasive manoeuvres while the missiles guide themselves to their targets.

AIM-120 AMRAAM Specifications
Type Medium range intercept missile
Manufacturer Raytheon
Weight 345lb (157kg)
Warhead AIM-120A/B 23kg (50lb) WDU-33/B blast-fragmentation, AIM-120C-5 18kg (40lb) WDU-41/B blast-fragmentation
Length 12ft (3.7m)
Diameter 7in (17.8cm)
Wingspan AIM-120A/B 53.3cm, AIM-120C-5 22.7cm
Performance max speed Mach 4, range AIM-120A/B 50-70 km, AIM-120C-5 >100km, guidance INS, active radar
Propulsion Hercules/Aerojet solid-fuelled rocket

Photo courtesy of Raytheon