National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS)

- , December 2018

Quick Facts

Role and Mobility Mid-Range Air Defense; Highly mobile, mounted on truck or rail
Interceptor and Range SLAMRAAAM; 40 km
Targets Aircraft, UAVs, and Cruise Missiles
Status and Exports Operational; Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, United States (defense of the National Capital Region), Finland, Oman, Lithuania, Indonesia and an undisclosed nation
Producer Raytheon and Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace (Norway)


Also known as the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) is designed for mid-range air defense and can be deployed to engage aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and UAVs. The system is also fielded to protect high-value assets and mass population centers—including the National Capital Region—against air-to-surface threats.[i]

Jointly designed by Raytheon and Kongsberg, NASAMS reached operational capability in 1994 and was first deployed by the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The system can engage 72 targets simultaneously in active and passive modes and, using active seeker missiles, can intercept targets beyond visual range. The NASAMS is armed with three launchers, each carrying up to six missiles. The primary weapon used by the system is the AIM-120 AMRAAM, however, the system can also employ AIM-9X Sidewinder, ESSM, and indigenous missiles.[ii]

The NASAMS uses Raytheon MPQ-64F1 Sentinel high-resolution, 3D pencil beam surveillance radar, which detects and tracks targets. The system is also fitted with a passive electro-optic and infrared sensor, hard-real-time communication network, and an embedded and standalone mission planning tool. The NASAMS uses a fire distribution center command-and-control unit to perform the battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) functions.[iii]

An upgraded version of the system called NASAMS II has been in service since 2007 and is equipped with new radar and 12 missile launchers for quicker identification and target destruction. In June 2015, Raytheon and Kongsberg entered into a 10-year agreement to expand their partnership on NASAMS until 2025.[iv]

The NASAMS can use multiple warning and tracking radars shared across integrated link 16 networks with a variety of air defense interceptors. The original NASAMS uses AIM-120 AMRAAM, a longer range interceptor, and the NASAMS-3 integrates the AIM-9X, a shorter range interceptor. The AIM-9X developed and deployed by the USAF is capable of all of its fighter jets for the critical capability of offensive and defensive air-to-air in shooting down enemy cruise missiles and aircraft. It is a short-range, multi-purpose, infrared tracking missile that harnesses the unique capability to be transferred directly from the wing of an aircraft into the NASAMS multi-missile land-based launcher. The AIM-9X is an all-services (the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force) effector featuring the most advanced IR seeker in use today, providing an effective solution to track and intercept hard-to-detect, fast-moving cruise missiles. The AIM-120 possesses the duel-use feature requiring no modification on the missile from aircraft to land battery. The F-15 EX actively utilizes these AMRAAMs for the defense of the United States and allied airspace.

In 2003, the Spanish Army acquired four NASAMS. Since 2006, Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands have ordered the upgraded NASAMS II air defense system.

In July 2022, the U.S. decided to send two NASAMS to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. This transfer marks the first advanced missile defense systems to be delivered to Ukraine, which have repeatedly asked for western missile defense systems as they face an onslaught of Russian aerial threats. [v]

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