SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG
After agreeing to provide spares and other support equipment worth $450 million to keep the Pakistani F-16 fleet active, the US administration has awarded a fresh contract to Raytheon Missiles and Defense under which the company will be manufacturing only AIM-120C8 (160km) and AIM-120D3 (200km+) effectively discontinue production of the older models of the AMRAAMs that could come as big jolt to the Pakistani F-16 fleet.
In early 2006, the Pakistani Air Force placed an order for 500 AIM-120C-5 missiles as part of a $650 million F-16 ammunition contract, since then American administration has refused to resupply these missiles and has also denied a request to provide them upgraded C8. With the Discontinuation of the C5 production, any possible window of Pakistan getting replenishment stock for its F-16 fleet is more or less over.
Only 19 countries will be getting future upgrades when the latest AIM-120D3 variant is available for the export market and current operators have already upgraded to the C8 variant which is in production. To mitigate the issue of ending with no bvr missiles for its F-16 fleet, Pakistan has started talks with Turkey to procure Bozdogan a short-range infrared homing, and Gokdogan a beyond visual range active radar homing missiles for its F-16 fleet.
But Gokdogan beyond visual range air-to-air missile is still inferior to C5 in range and comes with a claimed range of 60km while C5 had claimed range of 110km. AMRAAMs have a shelf life of 12-14 years if maintained in their storage container and after 10 years their battery needs to be replaced. AMRAAM effectiveness and accuracy tend to suffer after 10 years even if maintained in storage as prescribed, which may be one of the reasons why even 4-5 C-5 lobbed at IAF Su-30MKI in 2019 failed to hit it.
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