The Boeing Company unveils a new long-range, two-stage air-to-air missile, unlike conventional single-stage ones. The concept for the long-range air-to-air missile (LRAAM) was presented at the annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference of the U.S.-based Air Force Association.
The new missile is still in the phase of development. A “kill vehicle” is attached to the front of the missile. The rear section provides the initial burst of speed and carries the weapon out to a certain range.
At that point, the rear section falls away and a rocket motor in the front section ignites and propels the missile to its target.
Boeing said that LRAAM, which is very much still in the conceptual stage of development, is focused mainly the “boosted” propulsiton aspect of the design, in which the rear section, which has a body very similar to that of the kill vehicle attached in front, provides an initial burst of speed and carries the entire weapon out to a certain range, at which point it falls away. Another rocket motor in the front section would then ignite and propel it during the remainder of its flight
The kill vehicle and booster bodies, which share what appears to be an identical core shape, are not directly based on any existing Boeing design, the company representative told us. Using the same basic body design for both sections would help give it a more uniform form factor and could help simplify production and keep costs down.
Given the weapon’s early stage of development, there is limited information about LRAAM’s expected performance and other capabilities. However, the concept, overall, is supposed to provide a missile that has significant speed and range, as well as a high degree of maneuverability in the terminal stage of an engagement.
The expected added ability to maneuver comes from using a separate kill vehicle, which reduces drag and weight compared to a similarly sized single-stage weapon throughout its flight.
The missile is believed to be designed to destroy targets using the force of impact, rather than a warhead. Also, the front part of the missile might be able to be used as an air-to-air weapon for the destruction of short-range targets.
Boeing said the LRAAM would not compete with the U.S. Air Force’s current air-to-air missiles, indicating that the missile would complement and upgrade the Air Force’s air-to-air munitions.