US Navy Unveils New Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile AIM-174B

US Navy Unveils New Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile AIM-174B

U.S. Navy has revealed its new long-range air-to-air missile, the AIM-174B. This advanced weapon, an air-launched variant of the SM-6 surface-to-air missile, was recently spotted on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets during the RIMPAC 2024 exercise in Hawaii.

Key Points

  1. First public sighting of AIM-174B missiles on operational Navy fighters
  2. Based on the SM-6 (RIM-174) surface-to-air missile
  3. Carried by Super Hornets from squadrons VFA-2 and VFA-192
  4. Potentially fills the long-range engagement gap left by AIM-54 Phoenix retirement

The AIM-174B represents a major leap in air-to-air combat capabilities for carrier-based fighters. Its development addresses the Navy’s need for extended-range air defense, significantly surpassing the current AIM-120 AMRAAM’s range.

Technical Aspects

  • Derived from the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM)
  • Utilizes active radar homing seeker technology from the AIM-120 AMRAAM
  • Capable of speeds up to Mach 3.5
  • Official range of 130 nautical miles, substantially exceeding current air-to-air missiles

Also read this: Boeing Delivers First Upgraded Block III Super Hornets to US Navy

Strategic Implications

The introduction of the AIM-174B enhances the Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture. When integrated with E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, F-35 fighters, and AEGIS combat systems, it promises to extend engagement ranges dramatically for carrier air wings.

This new missile effectively bridges the capability gap left by the retirement of the AIM-54 Phoenix in 2004. While not a direct replacement, the AIM-174B aims to provide similar long-range engagement capabilities for modern fighters.

Future Prospects

As testing progresses, the AIM-174B (currently designated XAIM-174B or NAIM-174B) is expected to transition to full operational status. This development, alongside other initiatives like the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile, signifies the US Navy’s commitment to maintaining air superiority in an evolving global threat environment.

The unveiling of the AIM-174B during RIMPAC 2024 showcases the U.S. Navy’s technological edge and its readiness to face future aerial challenges in diverse operational theaters.

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