January 27, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - Lockheed recently awarded a contract worth up to $17.2 million to supply LAU-142/A launchers for the next 24 F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
A guided AIM-120 Advanced-Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile deploys from the F-22. [Photo by Steve Zapka]
The LAU-142/A, also known as the AMRAAM
Vertical Ejection Launcher or AVEL
is the system used to eject AIM-120
AMRAAM missiles from the Raptor's ventral weapons bays.
The AVEL uses pneumatics to eject AMRAAM missiles from the Raptor's bays in quick succession which helps the Raptor keep the ventral bay doors closed for as much time as possible in the interests of preserving its low radar observability. The missiles also have to be launched at just the right angle and speed to ensure proper missile guidance and separation from the aircraft at any speed.
The F-22s which will be fitted with AVEL launchers covered in this contract, production lot six, will bring the total number of F-22 Raptors on order to 131 and are scheduled for delivery to the only operator of the Raptor, the U.S. Air Force, in 2008.