by G Hari Kumar

The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) is a highly adaptable mid-range solution for any operational air defence requirement. The system provides the air defender with a tailorable, state-of-the-art defence system that can maximise their ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle or emerging cruise missile threats.

NASAMS is designed for mid-range air defence 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 centres—including the U.S. National Capital Region—against air-to-surface threats. 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.

Integration of Sensors and Effectors

The proven, fielded, reliable and highly capable NASAMS system contains a BMC4I (Battle Management, Command, Control, Computers, Communications, and Intelligence) Air Defence capability through the integration of sensors and launchers. It employs the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AIM-120) as the primary weapon. Targets are detected and tracked by a high-resolution, 3D pencil beam radar. Multiple of these radars and the associated Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs) are netted together via radio data links, creating a real-time recognised air picture.  

NASAMS can fire on target data provided by external sensors. Advanced emission control features of the radars minimise the risk of revealing the NASAMS unit's own position. The FDC automatically performs track correlation, identification, jam strobe triangulation, threat evaluation and weapon assignment. The AMRAAM missiles used within NASAMS are identical to those used on fighter aircraft, yielding considerable rationalisation returns for the user.

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.

NASAMS is owned by seven countries and has been integrated into the U.S.’ National Capital Region’s air defence system since 2005. While, India is going to be the new entrant to deploy this advanced system, it is in service in Norway, Finland, Spain, The Netherlands and one undisclosed country. It is also currently in production for Oman.


  • Open architecture provides growth potential
  • Single and multiple engagement capability
  • Unpresedented fire capability
  • Beyond visual range capability with active seeker missile
  • Strategic and high mobility
  • Low manpower requirements
  • Network Centric Warfare principles of operation
  • High survivability against electronic countermeasures
  • Look down / shoot down capability
  • High value asset defence, area and army defence, vital point and air base defensive

Together with Norwegian partner KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace, AS, Raytheon continues to integrate new capabilities into NASAMS to develop and field highly capable and fully integrated solutions. As the NASAMS user community grows, new technology insertions will provide current and future NASAMS partners access to the most technologically advanced and combat-ready system in the world.

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