Mythology Meets Modern Might
European Allies test Upgraded Missile in "Thor's Hammer" Firing Exercises
They call it Thor’s Hammer, but this missile test in Scandinavia had much more to do with modern computer processing than Norse mythology.
Military leaders from Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Turkey worked together this fall on a firing range in Sweden, where they successfully tested five Raytheon Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles.
The variant that was tested, called the AIM-120C7, has been in production since the mid-2000s but had to undergo new testing because its processor card – which instructs its advanced radar and other components – was upgraded. In particular, the tests in September helped ensure that the missile’s computing instructions were translated correctly into the new processor’s more advanced programming language.
“What you’ve got to do is, you have to requalify it on all existing platforms,” said Ronald Krebs, senior director of AMRAAM at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. “From a safety standpoint, it’s all about its ability to depart from either the aircraft or the launcher safely.”
Three of the missiles were fired from Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems ground launchers. Norway fired one missile from a NASAMS High Mobility Launcher and Finland shot two from a NASAMS canister launcher.
The others were fired from the air: Switzerland successfully fired one missile from an F-18, and Turkey fired its missile from an F-16. All five missiles successfully intercepted their targets. Four of the missiles were fired at a Firejet target drone. The fifth was fired at an MQM-107 target drone.
The AIM-120C7, originally developed for the United States military, is now sold to 35 foreign military allies. The Thor’s Hammer exercises date back to early testing of the missile in the late 1990s.
“The team worked incredibly hard to pull this off," Krebs said. "We had people deployed in Sweden for about two months in preparation, and when the shots went off, it was a really good team effort and a lot of work by the guys who went out there and did the job.”