US clears $100 Mn deal for AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM missiles for Lithuania

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential foreign military sale to Lithuania. The deal, estimated to be worth around $100 million, includes the acquisition of AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), along with associated equipment and support services. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has officially notified Congress of this potential sale.

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Lithuania Acquires Advanced Air to Air Missiles in 100 Million Deal with the United States 925 001 VMA-223 loading an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile (Picture source: US DoD)

Lithuania has expressed its intent to purchase 36 AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM missiles and one AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM Guidance Section. In addition to the missiles, the package includes Common Munitions Built-In-Test (BIT) / Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE), ADU-891/E adapter group computer test sets, and spare control sections and containers for AIM-120. The agreement also covers other essential elements such as spare parts, consumables, accessories, and repair/return support.

Furthermore, the package encompasses munitions support and equipment, delivery and support of classified software, both classified and unclassified publications and technical documentation, contractor logistics support (CLS), as well as personnel training and training equipment. It also includes studies and surveys, transportation support, and U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services.

This proposed sale significantly strengthens the security framework within NATO. It aligns with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the defensive capabilities of a key NATO ally. Lithuania will use these missiles in conjunction with the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), further augmenting its self-defense and regional security missions. The acquisition is also expected to enhance Lithuania’s interoperability with the United States and other NATO members.

According to U.S. officials, the sale will not affect the basic military balance in the region. It will also not require the deployment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Lithuania, thus having no negative impact on U.S. defense readiness.

The AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM is a significant evolution in the family of extended-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. Originating from the United States and in service since September 1991, these missiles have been used in various conflicts, including the Gulf War and the Syrian Civil War. Initially manufactured by Hughes between 1991 and 1997, and by Raytheon since then, the missile costs about $1.09 million according to 2019 fiscal year data.

The C-8 variant is part of a range that also includes AIM-120A, AIM-120B, AIM-120D, and AMRAAM-ER models. Weighing approximately 161.5 kg, with a length of 3.65 meters and a diameter of 178 mm, this missile is designed to be highly mobile. Its warhead is a high-explosive blast-fragmentation type weighing 20 kg, triggered by either an FZU-49 proximity fuze or an impact fuze system. Powered by a solid-fuel rocket motor, the AIM-120C-8 has an operational range of 57 nautical miles and can reach a maximum speed of Mach 4. Its guidance system includes inertial guidance, terminal active radar homing, and an optional mid-course update datalink, making it an extremely versatile and formidable weapon on the battlefield.

If this purchase goes through between Lithuania and the United States, there is no doubt that Lithuania's aerial defense capability will be significantly enhanced. This is certainly a development to watch.