USAF Launches AIM 260 BVR Missile From F-22 Raptor
However, one thing that caught a lot of attention was an unidentified missile fired by one of the F-22s. The unidentified missile is most likely the highly classified AIM-260 Combined Advanced Tactical Missile, according to military observers.
The existence of the AIM-260 JATM was initially confirmed in 2019 during the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center industry conference. The missile is being developed by Lockheed Martin and is expected to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile in the near future.
The service wants to use this missile to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile with a new, longer-range weapon. The JATM has a significantly increased range over the AMRAAM, matching or exceeding the capacity of the newer Chinese version of the PL-15, according to USAF officials.
The highly classified JATM is thought to combine a multi-mode seeker with a long-range rocket system that can fit into the F-22’s weapons compartment. The Navy’s F/A-18E/F and, eventually, the F-35 will be equipped with it.
The image also shows a modular, “stacked” propulsion system, implying that the missile can be adapted for longer or shorter missions. Although the Air Combat Command artwork does not depict any unusual air intakes or thrust holes, as seen on Lockheed’s advanced “Cuda” missile, analysts believe the missile will have revolutionary propulsion technology. The service also wants to keep these missiles in a very safe location.
To justify a military construction project at the Hill Air Force Installation in Utah in 2019, the Air Force stated that the base required a dedicated storage location for the JATM.
According to the service, the reason was that the missile was “highly sensitive”, which necessitated the establishment of a “Special Access Program Facility” at the base with tight security.
The USAF said the JATM “is the number one air delivery weapon priority for the Air Force and Navy, and outperforms other weapons system upgrades and modernization efforts on every aircraft deployed.”