The American military is planning to sometime replace the AIM-120, but it will squeeze some more life out of it until that time comes. And it will do so by fielding a more modern variant called AIM-120D-3. That’s the missile that was fired twice in test runs during these past few months.
According to the U.S. Navy, the new variant comes with an improved guidance system. It was tested on May 13 over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California after being fired from the underside of an F/A-18F Super Hornet. According to the people overseeing the launch, the objectives of the mission were met.
More to the point, the military wanted to see if the missile’s safe separation autopilot works as it should, but also have a look at the weapon’s free-flight navigation toward its target. Sadly, there's no video of the test, for obvious reasons, but the image released by the U.S. Navy and attached above says all there is to say about it.
The plan is to have the new variant of the AMRAAM ready for deployment in 2023. It will have some big shoes to fill, as the present version sold over 14,000 units to both the American military and its allies.