Arms export regulators in the USA have approved a request by Sweden to purchase Raytheon Technologies Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), adding to the growing list of countries planning to purchase the battle-tested precision weapon system.

The deal is valued at $605 million and covers up to 250 AIM-120C-8 AMRAAMs, along with spare components and technical and logistical support services.

AMRAAM loading

Source: US Navy

US Marines load an AMRAAM onto an AV-8B Harrier aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex

The US Department of State, which reviews and approves exports of sophisticated American-made arms, signed off on the request by Stockholm on 7 July, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which manages Foreign Military Sales.

“The proposed sale will improve Sweden’s capability to meet and deter current and future threats in the region by ensuring Sweden has modern, capable air-to-air munitions,” Washington says in the judgement.

“This sale will further advance the already high level of Swedish air force interoperability with US joint forces and other regional and NATO forces,” the DSCA adds.

Sweden operates a fleet of 71 Saab Gripen C multirole fighters, according to Cirium data, with 60 of the latest E-series Gripens on order.

Long-neutral Sweden announced its intention join the Euro-Atlantic military alliance in 2022, just months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Sweden, along with neighbouring Finland, began the official NATO application process simultaneously last September.

However, while Finland’s membership cleared the threshold of unanimous approval by the other 30 member states, Sweden’s bid has stalled for months in the face of political opposition led by Turkey. However, on 10 July at the NATO summit in Lithuania, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he is dropping opposition to Sweden joining the alliance, paving the way to full accession.

In the meantime, Washington and Stockholm have moved to bolster the strategically situated country’s defences through increased military cooperation and additional arms sales.

In April, Sweden conducted its largest military exercises in 30 years, involving air, naval and ground forces responding to an invasion scenario by an unnamed foreign power. Known as Aurora 23, the drills included personnel from over a dozen countries, including the USA and the UK.

“We are now on our way into NATO, which makes this exercise even more important,” Sweden’s Brigadier General Stefan Andersson said at the start of the exercise in April.

Conventional AMRAAM air-to-air missile on wingtip c Raytheon

Source: Raytheon

An AMRAAM guided missile mounted on a wingtip weapon station

Stockholm’s AMRAAM buy comes amid a surge of interest in the Raytheon-built air combat missile. In June, Raytheon parent company RTX said it had been awarded a $1.15 billion AMRAAM production contract from the US Air Force.

The deal will deliver munitions to 18 countries, including beleaguered Ukraine, as well as Washington’s armed services.

“We recognise AMRAAM is the most advanced, combat-proven missile, and we owe it to the war fighters to ensure they have the technology they need when they need it,” says Paul Ferraro, president of air power for Raytheon.

The company notes that the $1.15 billion production agreement represents the largest AMRAAM contract to date. Raytheon says the lot will include both the most-advanced AIM-120D-3 version for the US military and the AIM-120C-8 variant destined for international customers.

In announcing approval of the AMRAAM request by Sweden, Washington said such sales “support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States”.

Updated 10 July to include new developments regarding Sweden’s bid to join NATO.