Qatar has become the 11th nation to order the Raytheon/KONGSBERG NASAMS short-range ground-based air defence system, and the first to specify the integration of the new longer-ranged AMRAAM-ER missile with the system.
The US$2.2bn (A$3.13bn) contract – which also includes Patriot system enhancements – with Raytheon will give Qatar’s NASAMS system a medium-range capability with the addition of AMRAAM-ER, while also removing the risk and development non-recurring expenses (NREs) for future operators. Other nations with NASAMS on order or in service include the US, Norway, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Oman, Lithuania, Indonesia, Australia, and an undisclosed customer.
The AMRAAM-ER utilises the warhead and guidance system of the AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM and integrates it with the rear section of the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) which comprises the motor and control section, which reportedly increases the standard NASAMS AMRAAM range by at least 50 per cent and altitude by 70 per cent. The AIM-120C-7 and the RIM-162 are both in service with the RAAF and RAN respectively.
The Qatar and AAMRAAM-ER announcement comes just weeks after KONGSBERG successfully fired a Raytheon AIM-9X Block II infra-red missile from a NASAMS cannister launcher and destroyed a target in flight for the first time in May at the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s Andoya Test Centre in Norway.
The option to integrate the AIM-9X and AMRAAM-ER with the Australian Army’s Enhanced NASAMS system is under consideration as a future capability enhancement for future enhancements of Project LAND 19 Phase 7B, the contract for which was signed in June.