The U.S. Air Force has awarded Raytheon Technologies‘ [RTX] missiles and defense unit in Tucson, Ariz., a nearly $1.2 billion contract for production lot 37 of the company’s Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

The contract “provides for the production of AMRAAM missiles, AMRAAM telemetry system, initial and field spares, and other production engineering support activities,” DoD said in a June 20 contract announcement. Work is to finish by Jan. 31, 2027 and involves unclassified Foreign Military Sales to Ukraine, Finland, Norway, Hungary, Japan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, “which accounts for approximately 39 percent of the contract value,” the Pentagon said.

An en bloc amendment by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) to the HASC draft fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill, H.R. 2670, said that HASC “supports the Air Force’s work on modernizing its arsenal of air-to-air missiles, acknowledges their criticality to effective deterrence, and if necessary, combat operations.” Wittman chairs the HASC tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

“The committee recognizes that work is currently underway to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile with the AIM-260 Joint Air Tactical Missile [JATM] but notes that the AIM-260 is yet to be fielded,” per Wittman’s amendment. “The committee notes that a more comprehensive and integrated approach to air-to-air missile development is needed to remain competitive against strategic competitors as it reduces the time between capability improvements, fosters increased competition, builds a stronger and more resilient defense industrial base, and improves production capacity. The committee also recognizes that improvements to requirements, integration, and testing are required to support more rapid development and fielding of air-to-air weapons.”

The amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to brief HASC no later than Feb. 1 next year on how the Pentagon will execute the integrated approach to air-to-air missile development to include an evaluation “of whether the use of unmanned aircraft as a launch platform for early air to air missile development would enable accelerated development at lower risk,” Wittman’s amendment said.

The Air Force is moving toward procuring the Lockheed Martin [LMT] JATM, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) last month (Defense Daily, May 3).

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown told SASC that the Air Force’s requested $1.5 billion increase for munitions in fiscal 2024 “will help to facilitize an increased production rate, not only for AMRAAM but JATM, which is a follow-on to AMRAAM and is also gonna be an important aspect to support the Collaborative Combat Aircraft.”

The Air Force and the U.S. Navy are to field JATM on the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 fighters and the Boeing [BA] F/A-18E/F fighter.

In 2019, the Air Force said that it was developing JATM to counter the Chinese-made PL-15 air-to-air missile (Defense Daily, June 20, 2019). JATM is to have a longer range than the AIM-120D. While the Air Force has divulged little about JATM and has said that its capabilities are classified, defense analysts have said that the missile will likely have a speed of Mach 4 to 5 and a range of 120 to 150 miles.