Home Air Norway signs massive $500M AMRAAM missile contract for F-35 fleet

Norway signs massive $500M AMRAAM missile contract for F-35 fleet

Norwgian F-35 launching AMRAAM
Norway first trialed AMRAAMs on its F-35s in 2019. Photo: Norwegian defense ministry

The Norwegian defense ministry has concluded a contract worth five billion Norwegian Krone (approx. $502M) for the purchase of Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) for its fleet of F-35 fighters.

AIM-120D3 (AMRAAM-D) is an upgraded version of the missiles that have previously been used by both the Norwegian F-16 fighters and the NASAMS air defense system.

With a more powerful engine, better control systems and data link, the missile will give Norwegian combat aircraft a better ability to combat the breadth of modern air threats.

“The F-35 is equipped with sensors that can find far more types of threats over much greater distances than before. Through this acquisition, the planes get a weapon that also has major improvements in sensors and range, and which will be effective against everything from drones and cruise missiles to other combat aircraft,” Norwegian defense procurement head Gro Jære said.

According to the defense ministry, the missiles will be delivered by 2028 as part of the program to procure a total of 52 Joint Strike Fighters.

AMRAAM-D will be the main weapon Norway’s new combat aircraft will use to defend Norwegian airspace for several decades to come. The purchase of the air-to-air missiles is the largest single procurement of weapons for the Norwegian Armed Forces ever.

In use by 41 nations, the AMRAAM is flying on the F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 C/D Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-22 Raptor, Eurofighter Typhoon, JAS-39 Gripen, Panavia Tornado and Harrier jump jet. It is also the only air-to-air missile qualified on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The defense ministry said it also signed an industrial cooperation agreement with missile manufacturer Raytheon, which already has close cooperation with several Norwegian defense companies.

“It is important for the government that large defense acquisitions from abroad should also create opportunities for Norwegian industry, and this is no exception. We see several relevant areas of cooperation that together can ensure value creation worth several billion krone,” defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram commented.

Norway announced the AMRAAM purchase after revealing its intention to procure the US Air Force’s new StormBreaker bombs for the F-35. Also built by Raytheon, the bomb carries a 105 pound warhead and uses a combination of millimeter wave active radar homing, semi-active laser guidance, infrared homing, and GPS coupled inertial guidance and data-link to strike stationary targets at 69 miles and moving targets at 45 miles.