The U.S. is fast approaching the reality of using legacy fighters armed with modern radars and extended-range AIM-120 air-to-air missiles to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles early in their flight, or even low-flying satellites. And while European allies and acquaintances like Russia focus on the Obama administration's Aegis-based Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defenses there, the U.S. military appears to be on the verge of ramping up airborne theater defenses in Asia.
The fighter-radar-missile combination “would make a lot of sense for Asian countries” that fly the same aircraft as the U.S.,” Arnie Victor, director of F-15 business development at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, says in the latest Aviation Week & Space Technology.
“We’re basing this on the Amraam form factor and existing production components,” says Philip Pagliara, Raytheon Missile Systems’ program manager for the Network-Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE). “We’re adding some new components and integrating them into a missile that looks like an Amraam but that can do a new mission — ballistic missile defense. The real key is that it uses logistics support that is already in place. If you can shoot an Amraam, you can shoot an NCADE. It meets all the requirements for internal carriage for those types of platforms" such as the stealthy F-22, he says.
"We have not shot NCADE from a UAV yet, but it is on our horizon,” Pagliara adds.
Here is a video of a December 2007 test, thought by Raytheon researchers to be the only successful intercept of a ballistic missile by an air-to-air missile fired from a fighter. Go to AW&ST to read the full story on NCADE.