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Raytheon is developing a new medium-range small air-to-air missile that comes in at half the size of current equivalent weapons systems.

The company’s website bills the new Peregrine missile as ‘a small, fast, lightweight air-to-air weapon for use against drones, manned aircraft and cruise missiles’.

Raytheon says the smaller size makes the missile more manoeuvrable than legacy systems, with the weapon taking up less space on new fighter jets like the Lockheed Martin F-35.

Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president Dr Thomas Bussing said: “Peregrine will allow US and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to maintain air dominance.

“With its advanced sensor, guidance and propulsion systems packed into a much smaller airframe, this new weapon represents a significant leap forward in air-to-air missile development.”

Raytheon says Peregrine uses off-the-shelf components and additive manufacturing to make the missile cheaper to build than current equivalents.

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By GlobalData

The company has not said whether the missile was designed for a specific military customer, however, the anti-drone capabilities suggest it expects this to be a requirement for future air-to-air missiles.

Raytheon has yet to say when the missile will be manufactured and tested. The company supplies the majority of air-to-air weapons for the US Air Force (USAF) and as such the company is likely to make the system available to the USAF in future.

The company said: “The system’s compact airframe doubles the weapons loadout on current aircraft, allowing US and allied fighter pilots to carry more missiles into battle to achieve air dominance.

“It can be easily integrated on today’s fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets and is compatible with current launch gear.”

The Peregrine weighs just over 150 lbs (68 kg) and is 6 ft in length (1.8 m). In comparison, the current AIM-9 Sidewinder weighs almost 20 kg more and is just over a metre longer than the new system.