53rd Wing completes first-ever guided launch of AIM-120D3

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing

A 53rd Wing F-15E Strike Eagle executed the first-ever guided launch of the AIM-120D3 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile here June 30, 2022 successfully engaging a QF-16 full-scale aerial target.

The 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron’s test effort was to execute a long-range shot that physically stressed the new missile hardware and verified missile performance capabilities.

The AMRAAM F3R is a comprehensive hardware system redesign impacting 15 Circuit Card Assemblies replacing early 2000s technology components.

“Successful execution proves the redesigned hardware and software are progressing as expected and puts us one step closer to fielding a reliable, sustainable air-to-air capability to the warfighter,” said Maj. Heath Honaker, 28th TES director of engineering and advanced programs.

In the months preceding the launch, the test team conducted several captive-carry test missions with AIM-120D3 instrumented test vehicles to collect data and ensure the new missile hardware and software functioned correctly.

“F3R is critical to enabling high-confidence AIM-120D production from 2022 through the remainder of the missile life-cycle,” said Honaker.

Completion of the live-fire event required close coordination between Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Air Dominance Division, 96th Test Wing, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, Boeing and Raytheon Missiles & Defense personnel to ensure the aircraft, missile, airborne targets, and Eglin range safety and data collection systems were ready.  The result was an effective live-fire test that met all objectives.  

This launch is the first of five combined Air Force and Navy live-fires scheduled for the AMRAAM F3R program.