The US State Department has approved the possible sale of AIM-120C-7/8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) to Japan.

Tokyo has requested 150 AMRAAMs, three AIM-120 AMRAAM guidance sections, missile containers, control sections, weapon support, and support equipment at an estimated cost of $293 million.

The missiles can be fitted onto the country’s F-35, F-2, and F-15J fighters.

“The proposed sale will improve Japan’s capability to meet current and future threats by defending the Japanese homeland and US personnel stationed there,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. “Japan already has AMRAAMs in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces.”

Previous Japanese requests for US missile purchases have met with approval, including 56 AIM 120C-7 missiles in 2017, 32 AMRAAMs in 2018, 160 more in 2019, and a further 32 in 2020.

Approval of a potential Foreign Military Sale by the US State Department does not guarantee the sale, and quantities and contract values can be changed.

Raytheon AMRAAM air-to-air missile
The AMRAAM air-to-air missile provides operational flexibility and multi-shot capability in day, night, and all weather conditions. Photo: Raytheon

The AMRAAM Missile

Manufactured by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, the AIM-120C-7/8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile “is the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air dominance weapon,” the company states on its website.

A supersonic missile featuring an active radar system, the AMRAAM is based on the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile “with more than 30 years of design, upgrades, testing, and production” and is deployed in 40 countries.

The weapon has a range of more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) and incorporates its active radar with a micro-computer system and inertial reference unit, making it less dependent upon the aircraft’s fire-control system.

Raytheon will be the principal contractor should the purchase request receive final approval.