Boeing displayed a Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile (LRAAM) concept at the annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, this week.
The two-stage missile reportedly has a “kill vehicle” attached atop a rear booster section. The end of the missile is ejected after the initial burst, igniting the front section and propelling it to the target.
According to War Zone, Boeing began development of the concept in response to the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Broad Area Announcement (BAA) last year requesting novel solutions for faster, longer-range air-to-air missile development.
Possible AMRAAM Replacement
The AFRL solicitation suggested the missile as a replacement for the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) and AIM-9X Sidewinder. It would complement the Lockheed Martin AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile currently under development. The BAA specified requirements for a multipulse, air-breathing, two-stage missile design.
The Boeing LRAAM is still at an early stage of development, so most of its features and capabilities are not yet known. However, the outlet wrote that the missile is expected to provide significant speed and range as well as maneuverability, particularly at the terminal flight stage.
According to the outlet, the missile’s greater maneuverability will be achieved by having a separate kill vehicle that cuts down on drag and weight compared to similar single-stage missiles. Moreover, the fact that it doesn’t use a warhead, relying on the kill vehicle’s sheer force of impact, allows developers to optimize fuel and maneuverability.
The outlet wrote that both sections of the missile — the kill vehicle and the rear portion — are cone-shaped, which could “help simplify production and keep costs down.”