The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Raytheon a $72m contract for technical support of the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM).

The contract maintains support for the beyond-visual-range fire-and-forget missiles through to 2025.

Raytheon describes AMRAAM as “the world’s most sophisticated air dominance weapon”, which has been in service and upgraded over the past 25 years.

The missile is currently the only air-to-air missile qualified for use with the Lockheed Martin F-35, reaching initial operating capacity with the US Marine Corp’s F-35B aircraft.

The F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22 alongside the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Panavia Tornado are also able to use the missile.

According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), work will be completed at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson, Arizona, the home of the company’s Missile Systems division.

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The DoD added: “The contractor [Raytheon] will provide technical services and analysis supporting the AMRAAM weapon system.” Under the award from the Air Force Lifecycle Management Centre, based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The missile has an inbuilt targeting system, reducing the load on the aircraft that fires it. When it closes on a target the missile uses an active-radar system to guide it, meaning multiple missiles can be fired from one aircraft at against several targets.

Raytheon says that the missile has completed over 4,000 test firings and helped pilots win ten air-to-air combat encounters, this included significant use by the NATO peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.

Raytheon recently announced the Peregrine air-to-missile which serves a similar role to the AMRAAM but in a smaller, lighter package however the company says it will complement the existing AMRAAM, not replace it.