NASAMS (National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) is a distributed and networked medium to long range air-defence system. NASAMS was the first surface-based application for the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile).
NASAMS 2 is an upgraded version of the NASAMS air-defence system and it has been operational since 2007.
The Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace teamed up with Raytheon and initiated the NASAMS programme as a cooperative effort for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The network-centric air defence system NASAMS was declared fully operational capable in 1998 but had an initial operational capability as early as in 1994/95.
Until the late 1990s the RNoAF ground-based air defence solution, also known as the Norwegian Solution (NORSOL), consisted of three different weapon systems; the 40mm Bofors L70 gun (controlled by the Oerlikon Contraves FCS2000 monopulse doppler tracking radar), the laser beam riding RBS 70 MANPADS system and the NASAMS. All three systems were integrated through the ARCS via field wires and radio. The ARCS maintained connection to higher echelons and ensured protection of friendly aircraft while preventing over- and underkill for all subordinate weapon systems. NASAMS capabilities are enhanced by the system’s networked and distributed nature.
The RNoAF together with KDA conducted a mid-life update of NASAMS, called NASAMS 2, and the upgraded version was first handed over to RNoAF in mid-2006. The major difference between the two versions is the use of Link 16 on NASAMS 2 as well as a better ground radar. Full operational capability (FOC) was expected for 2007.
A complete NASAMS (2) battery consists of 12 missile launchers (LCHR) (each one carrying six AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles), eight radars (AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel F1 Improved Sentinel X band 3D radar), one fire control centre (CTOC), one electro-optical camera vehicle (MSP500) and one Tactical Control Cell (TCC) vehicle.
The upgrades consist of:
- New radars, which can be mounted on a variety of vehicles. The radars have their own power supply and can process and distribute the data independently. The vehicles can be connected via radio links, cable, through Multi Rolle Radio, or through TADKOM.
- The radars have a broader frequency spectrum and variable rotation speeds, and also an increased capacity to spot and follow targets.
- Each module can automatically determine its position with its northfinder and GPS instruments.
- The control centre modules can be mounted on a large variety of vehicles
- The electro-optical MSP500 sensor is equipped with a laser rangefinder and a TV-camera, as well as an upgraded thermographic camera. These can be used to fire the missiles passively, which has been successfully tested.
The control system can detach itself from the sensors, in order to become less visible.
In April 2019 RNoAF upgraded to NASAMS 3, and in May 2019 the first live firing test were conducted.
The upgrades consist of:
- Secure IP communications between all elements in NASAMS.
- New radarsoftware.
- Upgraded fire control centre.
- Upgraded canister launchers.
- «High Mobility Launcher».
High Mobility Launcher (HML)
HML is a subproject from NASAMS 3. It consists of a Humvee with 4 AMRAAM-missiles mounted on a rack back on the truck.
It can be transported with a C-130J Super Hercules.
Much of the development is from the disbanded Raytheon project SLAMRAAM.
The system integrates US-built MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles with an indigenously developed Battle management C4I system called FDC, short for Fire Distribution Center. The FDC connected to a MPQ-64 radar forms an “Acquisition Radar and Control System” (ARCS). The missile has a horizontal range of up to 25 km. Other sources cite a range of ‘over 15 km’ but this depends on the missile version used.
AMRAAM missile range:
• AIM-120A/B: 55–75 km
• AIM-120C-5: 105 km
• AIM-120C-7: 120 km
• AIM-120D: 180 km
Note that ranges for AAMs are estimated for head-on encounters for fast moving aircraft at an altitude, and the range is significantly shorter when the same missiles are launched from stationary ground platforms. Further dimensioning for a stationary ground-launched-missile system is its maximum altitude reach, which by rule of thumb is one third of its maximum horizontal range.
On 22 February 2015, Raytheon announced the development of the Extended Range upgrade to the NASAMS AMRAAM missile offering (AMRAAM-ER). Development work began in 2014, and the missile is actually an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile using AMRAAM guidance. The first flight test took place in August 2016. Production was expected by 2019. Engagement envelope is expanded with a 50 percent increase in maximum range and 70 percent increase in maximum altitude; range will extend to about 40 km.
There are 11 official operators as of 2019, Kongsberg stated: “NASAMS is in operational use in Norway, Spain, USA, the Netherlands, Finland and one undisclosed customer. The system is in production for Oman, Lithuania, Indonesia, Australia and Qatar. NASAMS is in use with both Armies and Air Forces around the world. In addition Poland, Greece, Sweden and Turkey operate the KONGSBERG Command and Control solution for various weapon systems.”
- Chile – Ordered in 2011.
- Finland – Selected in 2009.
- Lithuania – Received the first NASAMS 3 battery on 19 June 2020.
- Netherlands – 2 batteries, each consisting of 1 fire-control center, 1 radar and 3 launchers.
- Spain – Four fire units acquired in 2003.
- United States – Used to protect high-value targets and Washington D.C.
- Indonesia – 2 NASAMS battery delivered and in service as of 2020.