The AIM-260 missile, known as the Joint Advanced Tactical Missile (JATM), is an advanced weapon system that seeks to enhance lethality and effectiveness in modern warfare.
Designed as an air-to-air weapon, the AIM-260 missile is currently under development to enhance fighter aircraft’s capabilities in engaging and neutralizing hostile targets. Its primary goal is to strengthen the lethality of air superiority forces and maintain dominance in contested operational environments.
One of the major advancements of the AIM-260 missile is its extended range. It is intended to have a significantly larger engagement envelope compared to its predecessor, the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). This extended range allows pilots to engage targets from a safer distance, reducing their exposure to enemy threats.
The AIM-260 missile incorporates advanced guidance systems and improved seekers, resulting in enhanced accuracy and target discrimination capabilities.
It is expected to feature enhanced electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) to effectively counter enemy jamming attempts, making it more resilient in electronic warfare environments.
Furthermore, the AIM-260 missile is being developed with a strong emphasis on compatibility and interoperability across different aircraft platforms. This ensures that it can be employed by a variety of fighter aircraft, enhancing the flexibility and versatility of air operations.
The ongoing development of the AIM-260 missile represents a significant advancement in air-to-air warfare, reinforcing the lethality and effectiveness of fighter aircraft.
Through extended range, improved accuracy and target discrimination, and compatibility across platforms, it aims to provide pilots with a decisive advantage in aerial engagements, ultimately contributing to air forces’ overall superiority and effectiveness in modern combat scenarios.
Accelerated production of the AIM-260
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall revealed that the AIM-260 missile, announced in 2019, could begin production this year. The goal is to increase the capacity of the production line compared to what was originally planned.
Additionally, this long-range missile will be equipped on future combat drones, called Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA), significantly increasing the range of their manned counterparts.
The CCAs, key to the future of the USAF
The US Air Force plans to purchase at least 1,000 CCAs and possibly as many as 200 of the future sixth-generation fighter. The CCAs will improve the NGAD system and all varieties of tactical aircraft. These drones will team up with manned fighters like the F-35A and the sixth-generation fighter jet in development.
The NGAD program is intended to develop a “system of systems” that will incorporate manned aircraft, drones, and a new generation of network technologies.
The AIM-260 missile: reinforcing lethality
The AIM-260 is the successor to the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and primarily aims to outperform Chinese missiles such as the long-range PL-15.
The missile will have a significantly greater range than AMRAAM and is likely to feature a multi-mode seeker, although its performance and capability are being kept under wraps.
Equipping thousands of CCAs with the AIM-260 will bolster the lethality and survivability of these unmanned fighters, a crucial factor in combat.
Acceleration in the manufacture of the JATM
The US Air Force seeks to increase its weapons capacity by accelerating the manufacturing of the JATM, also requesting authorization for multi-year acquisitions of other missiles, such as the AMRAAM, the AGM-158 (JASSM) and the LRASM.
Lieutenant General Richard Moore stressed the importance of getting to the JATM as soon as possible and increasing its production.