Raytheon expects to recover the production schedule of its AIM-120D AMRAAM air-to-air missile in mid-2013, says chief executive William Swanson.
The company has certified Norwegian ammunition supplier Nammo to build rocket motors as a substitute after the engine's original vendor suddenly developed problems with the chemistry of the rocket propellant.
"They're fully qualified now," says Swanson, speaking at the Credit Suisse Aerospace and Defense Summit on 28 November. "Nammo is delivering rocket motors."
Nammo has already delivered 125 motors so far. By the first quarter of 2013, deliveries should accelerate to 100 motors per month. "We expect to recover mid-next year," Swanson says.
The Pentagon had earlier imposed a delivery halt on Raytheon due to faulty motors supplied by Alliant Techsystems (ATK).
Raytheon is able to quickly recover from the AMRAAM delivery halt because it has continued building guidance control sections. The guidance section accounts for about 95% of the weapon, Swanson says. The company has built more than 800 units which are ready to be integrated with the new Nammo rocket motors.
Domestic motor supplier ATK will have to reformulate and requalify its rocket motor before it can resume production of AIM-120D engines, Swanson says.
ATK ran into problems with the formulation of its propellant, Swanson says. As environmental laws changed, ATK had to change the formula for the motor. The gradual result of those modifications was that the rocket motor's performance degraded. "If you don't have margin in your design, you're going to end up failing your lot firings, and your rocket motors won't be successful," Swanson says.