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US Air Force: Weapons

US Air Force: Weapons



Ever since an Italian pilot threw a large grenade from his cockpit at a

Libyan oasis on 1 November 1911, airplanes and their weapons have been dedicated

to the proposition that the 'Bad Guys' of the world seem to behave best with a

knee on their chest and a knife at their throat. Today, warplanes are the knee,

their weapons are the knife. There is nothing 'nice' or humane about these tools

their job is to destroy things and people. Precision-guided weapons were not

developed to conduct more humane warfare, they simply enable more targets to be

destroyed more quickly with fewer aircraft. Cluster bombs specialize in killing

and maiming large numbers of people who happen to be outside shooting at

airplanes or friendly troops.

A warplane without its weapons is useless. This is why the questions, "How

fast does your airplane go?" or "How far can it fly?" usually elicit a reply of

"It depends," from a pilot. Just like the family car can not go as fast or far

as the salesman said it would when it is loaded with Mom and Dad and the kids,

and a luggage rack on the roof, neither will a warplane ready for the business

of war. How many weapons are carried, what kind they are, what altitude they are

delivered from, what defenses have to be penetrated, what other kinds of

aircraft are in the strike package, and even which fuzes are being used are

typical of the factors evaluated for their impact on a given mission (and

aircraft performance).

It is important to realize that just because an aircraft is able to carry a

given weapon does not mean that it actually trains to employ it operationally

and commanders are extremely reluctant to send their aircrew into combat with

weapons they have not trained with. Two examples: while A-10s are authorized to

deliver laser-guided bombs, they never do Mavericks are their fort; on the

other hand, F-111Fs are authorized to employ Maverick, but they never touch it

preferring their trusty LGBs instead.

It is interesting to note how warplane design is affected by weapon

performance. For instance, during the Vietnam War air-to-air missile performance

was abysmal. This, combined with the inability to positively identify aircraft

as friend or foe until they were within visual range, resulted in numerous

dogfights. It is no coincidence that every fighter produced since that war has

had a gun and incredible maneuverability. But, with airborne warning and control

system (AWACS) airborne radars to identify the bad guys and the increased

lethality of air-to-air missiles, almost all aerial engagements during the Gulf

War were over 'before the merge' (when dogfighting begins), leaving both the

maneuverability and gun virtually unused for their intended purpose. This is

even more interesting in light of the recent selection of the advanced tactical

fighter, when the engine/airframe combination with the lowest thrust and highest

drag was selected, at least in part because of a perception that it will be

slightly more maneuverable in a slow-speed dogfight something good fighter

pilots avoid like the plague, despite what the film 'Top Gun' might lead one to


This article 'demystifies' weapons designations as much as possible. Most

of the prefixes and suffixes which append the nomenclature have simple meanings.

For instance, the prefix ' AF/' indicates an item used only by the Air Force,

while ' AN/' means one used by both the Air Force and Navy. Using the current

weapon designation system, an '/A' indicates the device remains attached to the

exterior of the aircraft, a '/B' suffix that it is released from the aircraft to

do whatever it is designed to do, and a '/C' is retained within the bomb bay.

While the original design has just a numerical designation, subsequent models

are indicated by a letter following the number (e.g. GBU-12/B, -12 A/B, etc.).

Dropping and firing live weapons is something done infrequently during

training, and most of the time training ordnance is used. For missiles this

means rounds with working seekers, but no rocket motors, warheads or guidance

sections. Where a live missile would display black (guidance), yellow (warhead),

or brown (rocket motor) bands, training rounds display either blue bands or

paint the entire section blue.

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Cluster bombs


While structures and other 'hard' targets are best dealt with by classical 'bombs,'

area targets such as troop and armor concentrations, truck parks and artillery batteries

are more susceptible to cluster munitions. Many early cluster munitions were dispersed

from containers retained by the aircraft. This had two major drawbacks. First, it

increased aircraft drag, thus decreasing range. Also, the dispersion pattern of the

bomblets was very dependent on speed and altitude, forcing the aircraft to maintain a

predictable flight path during deliverynever a wise move in combat! For these reasons,

only dispensers released from the delivery aircraft are used today. Once these are

released from the aircraft, the dispenser shell breaks apart, scattering the bomblets.

Most cluster bomb dispensers have 14-in (35-cm) suspension lug spacing.

Modern cluster bombs, like general-purpose bombs, are employed by all tactical

fighters as well as B-52s. Unexploded cluster bomblets in general, especially the older

ones used with the USAF's SUU-30 and the Navy's Mk 20, were the most difficult weapons to

dispose of after the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

M129 Cluster Bomb

The M129 cluster is used to deliver propaganda leaflets. Shaped generally like the

M117 750-pound class bomb, but constructed of fiberglass reinforced plastic, it weighs 92

pounds empty and about 200 loaded. It splits longitudinally to dispense about 30,000 5-in

x 7-in leaflets. Painted overall olive drab, the M129 is currently qualified for use with

the B-52 and F-16. During Desert Storm, two M129s were mixed into loads of M117 bombs

dropped by B-52Gs. Sixteen were also dropped over Baghdad by a four-ship of F-16s on 26

February 1991.

Mk 20 Rockeye II Cluster Bombs

The Mk 7 dispenser was the basis of most Navy cluster bombs from Vietnam well into

the 1990s. The $3,400 Mk 20 ' Rockeye II ' anti-armor weapon was the most widely used

version of the Mk 7. Developed by the Naval Weapons Center and adopted by the Air Force,

this subsonic-delivery dispenser first entered service in 1968 and was used extensively

during both Vietnam and Desert Storm. This was the ONLY cluster bomb to bear the title

'Rockeye II'. (The USAF's CBU-87 was often mistakenly identified as Rockeye II during

Desert Storm, but is a completely different weapon. The Mk 12 ' Rockeye I ' was a

pre-Vietnam developmental 750-pound dispenser containing 96 anti-armor bomblets that

wasn't produced.) Rockeye has been widely exported and used on all USAF combat aircraft

except the B-1, B-2 and F-117. Although many later Navy versions of Rockeye were thermal

protected for increased safety in case of a fire during carrier-based operations, non of

the versions used by the Air Force have this feature.

The Rockeye II's Mk 118 shaped-charge bomblets look very much like throwing darts

and are designed to be effective against both tanks and ships. The detonation of each

bomblet focuses a slug of copper against the point of impact with a force of 250,000 psi.

All versions of Rockeye use the Mk 118 Mod 0 bomblet except for the Mk 20 Mod 4, which

uses the Mod 1. The only difference between the two bomblets is that the Mk 118 Mod 0

requires 1.2 seconds to arm after being dispensed, while the Mk 118 Mod 1 only takes 0.5

seconds, allowing it to be used from the lower altitudes expected to be encountered in

combat against the now defunct Warsaw Pact.

The Mk 20 Mod 0 and Mk 20 Mod 1 were probably preliminary designs, but never

entered production. The Mk 20 Mod 2 was used by both the Navy and Air Force and was the

only Rockeye II lacking a fuze timer setting observation window for its Mk 339 Mod 0

fuze. It was also unique in having only a single fuze arming wire, which meant only the

4.0-second timer would function unless the fuze was manually reset to 1.2 seconds on the

ground. Finally, it was also the only version to use a hat box-shaped fuze cover on the

ground. Distinctive markings were a single three-inch wide, FSN 23538 or 33538 yellow

band, centered 102 inches aft of the nose fairing joint. Early production USAF Mk 20 Mod

2 bombs were overall FSN 24084 olive drab, while all subsequent Rockeye IIs were FSN

27875 white, with all having a 0.5-inch FSN 23638 or 33538 yellow semi-band over the top

half of the weapon to mark the center of balance.

The Mk 20 Mod 3 (Mk 7 Mod 3) was also used by both services. It incorporated a fuze

timer setting observation window, two access holes on the lower nose fairing, dual arming

wires (enabling in-flight selection of either fuze setting), a streamlined fuze cover,

and could use either the Mk 339 Mod 0 or Mod 1 fuzes. The single 'live' band was shifted

to 14.5 inches aft of the nose fairing joint.

The Mk 20 Mod 4 (Mk 7 Mod 4) was the primary (and last) version used by the USAF

and had several unique features. Aside from using the already mentioned Mk 118 Mod 1

bomblet, the Mod 4 had two sets of 14-in suspension lug wells, a longer fin release wire

and conduit, with additional cutouts in the conduit. It was also used by the USAF as the

basis of the canceled GBU-1 LGB. Mod 4s were fitted with either the Mk 339 Mod 0 or Mod 1

fuzes. The 'live' band on these weapons was centered 11 inches aft of the nose fairing


Mk 7, SUU-58, SUU-75, and SUU-76 Cluster Bomb Summary

Bomb Dispenser Sub-munitions Remarks Weight

Mk 20 Mod 2 Mk 7 Mod 2 247 Mk 118 Mod 0 490 lb.

Mk 20 Mod 3 Mk 7 Mod 3 inflight fuzing option

Mk 20 Mod 4 Mk 7 Mod 4 247 Mk 118 Mod 1 primary USAF version 496 lb.

SUU-30 Cluster Bombs

Developed during the Vietnam War, the SUU-30 family has been qualified for use by

all present USAF combat aircraft up to the newer B-1, B-2 and F-117, and widely exported.

Nine different versions of the subsonic dispenser were developed, but only five were

actually produced. The original SUU-30/B was a redesign of the Navy's Mk 5 ' Sadeye '

dispenser that reduced the size of latter's fins enough to permit carriage on MERs and

TERs. The SUU-30/B(Mod) and SUU-30A/B featured a modified fin assembly, with fintip

plates aligned with the air flow. The SUU-30C/B was externally identical to the

SUU-30A/B, but featured some internal structural modifications. All of these SUU-30s were

FSN 34087 olive drab with an 8-in (20-cm) diameter, 3-in (7.6-cm) wide FSN 33538 yellow

band around the nose.

The SUU-30B/B was a complete redesign which resulted in a blunter nose to the

dispenser. The SUU-30D/B through SUU-30G/B were used to test various fin configurations,

but were not produced. The final SUU-30H/B configuration had drag plates attached to the

trailing edges of the fins to stabilize the weapon during its separation from the

aircraft. This was the final SUU-30 produced, and the only one used after the Vietnam

War. These SUU-30s are FSN 34087 olive drab with a 0.5-in (1.3-cm) wide FSN 33538 yellow

band around the front of the cylindrical portion of the dispenser.

Operational SUU-30H/B cluster bombs are filled with spherical bomblets with

sharp-edged ridges called 'flutes' on their exteriors. These cause the bomblets to

spin-arm and self-disperse. The BLU-61A/B is a grapefruit-sized fragmentation bomblet

that weighs about 3 lb and detonates on impact. The BLU-63/B bomblet is similar in

function, but is only orange-sized, weighing about 1 lb, with the BLU-63A/B having an

additional incendiary capability. The BLU-86/B is functionally identical to BLU-63/B

except that it features a random time delay fuze.

SUU-30H/B Cluster Bomb Summary

Bomb Dispenser Sub-munitions Remarks Weight

CBU-52B/B 217 BLU-61A/B $1,500 fragmentation 790 lb.

CBU-58/B 650 BLU-63/B $2,900 frag/incendiary 810 lb.

CBU-58A/B SUU-30H/B 650 BLU-63A/B 820 lb.

CBU-71/B 650 BLU-86/B $2,000 frag/incendiary mine 810 lb.

CBU-71A/B 650 BLU-86A/B 820 lb.

SUU-64/65/66 Cluster Bombs

The Honeywell tactical munitions dispenser (TMD) was developed by the USAF in the

1980s to replace the Vietnam-era SUU-30 and Mk 7 dispensers. Managed by Odgen ALC, both

the CEM and Gator TMD-based munitions were widely used in the 1991 Gulf War. All TMD

dispensers are capable of carriage and release speeds of 700 kt IAS/Mach 1.4. They used

the FZU-39 airburst fuze, which can be set to function at any of 12 altitudes between 300

and 3,000 ft (91 and 914 m) AGL. There are two basic versions of the TMD: the

non-spinning SUU-64 and -66 and the spinning SUU-65. The $6,000 SUU-65 dispenser's fins

unfold after release and cant to spin it to a preselected rate before opening, permitting

ideal bomblet dispersion, even when released from very low altitudes. It can be

distinguished from the very similar $4,600 SUU-64 and SUU-66 by the large crossbar at the

back of its fin assembly.

The $14,000 Aerojet General CBU-87/B combined effects munition (CEM) uses the

SUU-65 TMD to dispense over 200 CEM bomblets. The CBU-87/B was rapidly qualified on

British Jaguars during the 1991 Gulf War when their low-altitude BL.755 cluster bombs

proved unusable for the high-altitude delivery tactics adopted. The CBU-87A/B features a

factory-installed FZU-39/B fuze. The otherwise identical CBU-87B/B uses the BLU-97A/B

bomblet. The change to the FZU-39(D-4)/B fuze results in the CBU-87C/B. Honeywell was the

second source contractor for CEM.

Similar in size and shape to a beer can, the 3.4-lb BLU-97/B bomblet is stabilized

by a tail-mounted ballute. It features an anti-material shape charge in the nose along

with a body that explodes into anti-personnel and incendiary fragments. Because these

bomblets suffered airburst malfunctions after being dispensed, a change from

piezo-electric to mechanical firing mechanisms was made, resulting in the BLU-97A/B.

The $40,000 Aerojet General/Honeywell CBU-89/B ' Gator ' uses the SUU-65 to deliver

a combination of BLU-91 and BLU-92 mines. The CBU-89A/B features a factory-installed

FZU-39/B fuze.

Honeywell's $265 BLU-91/B anti-personnel mine weighs 3.75 lb and deploys trip wires

that detonate it when they are disturbed. Aerojet General's $613 BLU-92/B anti-tank mine

weighs 4.31 lb and senses magnetic disturbances to determine when and where to fire its

self-forging warhead at passing tanks. Both mines eventually self-destruct. (US Army

designations for these mines are XM74 and XM75, respectively.)

The Textron Defense Systems CBU-97 sensor fuzed weapon (SFW) entered low-rate

initial production (LRIP) in mid-1992. In tests against formations of armored vehicles,

kill rates of over 2.5 tanks per CBU-97 dropped have been demonstrated. SFW's ability to

kill multiple targets per pass became crucial as the size of the fighter force shrank,

leading to its identification as one of the four 'pillars' for halting a regional attack

(along with the C-17, E-8 J-STARS, and military equipment prepositioning). Consideration

has also been given to using the BLU-108 with the AGM-86C and BGM-109 cruise missiles.

Initial plans had been to build 20,000 SFWs, but budget cuts dropped this to only 5,000.

Originally expected to cost $186,000 per weapon, manufacturing improvements subsequently

reduced this by as much as $72,000. Built at the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant in Parsons,

Kansas, LRIP weapons were delivered in 1993, followed by the production versions in April


Each CBU-97 spreads 10 BLU-108/B orientation and stabilization devices (OSD) over

an area of 1,200 x 600 ft (365 x 183 m). Each OSD descends by parachute until properly

aligned above the target area as it extends four 'skeet' explosively forged penetrator

anti-armor sub-munitions from its body. As they deploy from the OSD, each skeet actively

searches for targets with a passive, two-color infra-red sensor. When targets are

detected, the parachute is released and a rocket fires to spin the OSD, stopping its

descent and flinging the skeets along a horizontal trajectory. When positioned over a

target the skeet explodes, transforming a flat 5.25-in (13.3-cm) diameter copper plate

into a 6,000 ft (1,828 m) per second kinetic energy projectile directed at the target.

The direction of this 1-lb slug is controlled within the sensor's 0.5 degree field of

view so as to penetrate reactive and/or main battle tank armor, destroying the interior

of the tank and killing its crew.

By the spring of 1994, with about 100,000 TMDs of all versions in existence, plans

were announced to buy about 40,000 inertial guidance kits to provide 'PGM-like' accuracy

from delivery altitudes as high as 40,000 ft (12,192 m). The wind corrected munitions

dispenser (WCMD) will correct ballistic and wind errors with a combination of a processor

to accept target data, pop-out, moving tail fins and actuators, and nose ballast to

maintain weapon CG limits. Each kit is expected to cost $20,000-$30,000. This

modification will primarily be applied to the CBU-97 SFW, with funding beginning in FY96.

While initial plans focus on use of the 8-nm (14.7-km) range WCMD with the B-1B and B-2A,

any aircraft fitted with a 1760 databus will be capable of employing it, including the

F-15E and Block 50/52 F-16C/D. Initial plans called for WCMD to become operational with

the bombers at about the turn of the century. By mid-1994, consideration was also being

given to equipping the WCMD with 'Kit 2' carbon fiber warheads, like those used by

BGM-109s during the 1991 Gulf War.

The TMD-based CBU-98 direct airfield attack combined munition (DAACM) contained a

mix of BLU-106 boosted kinetic energy penetrators (BKEP) and HB.876 area denial mines.

The 5.5-lb Hunting HB.876 is used as part of the British JP.233 anti-runway munition used

successfully by British and Saudi Tornado GR.Mk 1s during the 1991 Gulf War. The $1,200

mine has a ring of curled springs legs around its base which help rotate it to an upright

position after landing. It then sits, waiting to greet a disturbance with a detonation.

After a preset interval, the HB.876 self-destructs. The 45-lb Textron Defense Systems

BLU-106 was similar in concept to many other runway penetrator munitions in that it was

parachute retarded long enough to point it earthward before its rocket motor fired,

driving beneath the runway where it exploded, heaving the runway upward. At least, that

is how the $5,100-class submunition was supposed to work. Textron was never able to make

the BLU-106 work reliably and, with the end of the Cold War, the need for

runway-cratering munitions that required manned overflight of a highly defended airfield

disappeared, as did the $119,000 CBU-98.

TMD Cluster Bomb Summary

Bomb Dispenser Sub-munitions Type Weight

CBU-87/B 202 BLU-97/B CEM w/field-installed FZU-39/B

CBU-87A/B SUU-65/B 202 BLU-97/B CEM w/pre-installed FZU-39/B

CBU-87A/B w/improved BLU-97

CBU-87B/B 202 BLU-97A/B CBU-87A/B w/FZU-39(D-4)/B 960 lb.

CBU-87C/B 202 BLU-97A/B

CBU-89/B 72 BLU-91/B Gator anti-personnel and anti-tank mines

SUU-64/B 22 BLU-92/B 710 lb.

CBU-89A/B 72 BLU-91/B Gator w/pre-installed FZU-39/B

22 BLU-92/B

CBU-97/B SUU-66/B 10 BLU-108/B SFW anti-armor 927 lb.

CBU-98/B SUU-64/B 8 BLU-106/B BKEP anti-runway munition 1,039 lb.

24 HB.876 JP.233 area denial mine

Cluster Bomb Fuzing

Once again, fuzing is of critical importance. Two types can be used, time delay and

proximity. A time delay fuze is set on the ground, and requires bomb release at a

specific altitude and airspeed to produce optimum bomblet dispersion. Proximity fuzing

uses a radar in the fuze to sense height above the ground, providing much greater

latitude in delivery parameters. All CBU fuzes are nose-mounted and serve to split open

the dispenser, releasing its payload.

USAF Cluster Bomb Fuzes

Fuze Type Remarks

FMU-56 proximity SUU-30H

FMU-107 timer M129 (also called AN-M147A1)

FMU-110 proximity SUU-30H

FZU-39 proximity SUU-30H, -64, -65, and -66

M909 timer M129

Mk 339 timer SUU-30H, M129, and Mk 20

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

General Purpose Bombs


General-Purpose Bombs

General-purpose (GP) bombs are the most commonly used weapons of aerial warfare.

They are inexpensive, easy to produce, and have numerous applications, including

providing the warhead for many precision-guided munitions (PGM s). All bombs weighing

less than 2,000 lb have suspension lugs spaced 14 in (35 cm) apart; those weighing more

use 30-in (76-cm) spacing. Odgen ALC manages all USAF conventional bombs, which are built

at plants located in McAlester, Oklahoma and Crain, Indiana.

The Mk 80 series bombs, with an explosive content of roughly 50 per cent, are based

on studies done by Douglas Aircraft in 1946. Production began during the Korean conflict,

although they did not actually see service until Vietnam. The 250-lb Mk 81 was found to

be ineffective during Vietnam and its use was discontinued. Use of the 1000-lb Mk 83 was

discontinued by the USAF after limited use during Vietnam, although it will apparently be

used again for JDAM weapons for the F-22. The Tritonal-filled 500-lb Mk 82 and 2,000-lb

Mk 84 bombs are the mainstays of USAF weaponry and have been widely exported. Live USAF

warheads and fins are painted FSN 34087 olive drab with a single 3-in (7.6-cm) FSN 33538

yellow band around the nose. Inert warheads have a non-explosive filler and either

substitute a FSN 35109 blue band for the yellow, or are painted overall blue.

The visually distinguishing characteristic of naval GP bombs is their very rough

thermal protective (TP) coating. This was developed after several tragic shipboard fires

during the Vietnam War, to make bombs burn in a fire instead of exploding. During the

early 1990s, when the Navy switched its filler from H-6 to PBXN-109, its Mk 80-series

casings received new designations: BLU-110 for the Mk 83, BLU-111 for the Mk 82, and

BLU-112 for the Mk 84. The Air Force only uses non-thermally protected (NTP) bombs.

The most common fin fitted to GP bombs is the low-drag, general-purpose (LDGP) fin,

also referred to interchangeably as the conical fin assembly (CFA). Initial CFAs did not

have independent designations, and were simply referred to using the bomb designation

(e.g., Mk 82 conical fin). Bombs fitted with this kind of fin are commonly called


There are also a number of fins that can be configured so as to either deploy or

not deploy their retarding fins. If not deployed, they have ballistics virtually

identical to CFA bombs. Because of this, both the CFA and non-retarding retard finned

bombs are referred to as low-drag (LD) bombs, while bombs using their retarding devices

are referred to as high-drag (HD) bombs. High-drag bombs loaded in weapon bays of B-52s

and B-1Bs have a MAU-111 strap that unwraps from around the bomb body as it falls,

delaying fin opening until the weapon is well clear of the aircraft.

Mk 82

All 500-lb class Mk 82 warheads have an exposed length of 71 in (180 cm) (not

including fuze or nose plug) and are 13.9 in (35 cm) in diameter. The Mk 82 Mod 0 was an

NTP warhead constructed from welded pipe. It featured an electrical fuze charging well

and a single hoisting/suspension lug located between two 14-in (35-cm) suspension lugs.

The main changes to the Mk 82 Mod 1 warhead, introduced on 4 January 1955, were the

switch to seamless tubing construction and the elimination of the single

hoisting/suspension lug. The Navy's Mk 82 Mod 2 was probably introduced in 1973 and is

thermally protected. Neither the NTP Mk 82 Mod 3 nor the TP Mk 82 Mod 4 were produced.

These warheads featured internal scoring to increase fragmentation effects. Mk 82s cost

about $500.

The Air Force uses the inert BDU-50 to simulate the Mk 82. These practice bombs

have no internal plumbing for fuzes. There are two versions: the BDU-50/B can only be

configured with tail fins, while the BDU-50A/B can also be fitted with LGB guidance kits.

There are three operational Mk 82 conical fin designs, only two of which are used

by the Air Force. The 22-pound Mk 82 Mod 1 has a 1.5 degree fin cant to spin-stabilize

the bomb and several doors and panels to allow access to tail fuzes. This fin is 26 in

(66 cm) long and has 15-in (38-cm) span fins. Like the Mk 82 CFA, the 27-lb MAU-93/B

attaches to the bomb with six set screws. However, it is 43 in (109 cm) long and has a

19.6-in (50-cm) fin span. The Navy's BSU-33 was developed during the late 1980s. The same

length as the Mk 82 CFA, this FSN 35376 gray fin adds 2.5 degree metal wedges to the left

rear corner of each fin to increase spin rate.

The 60-lb Mk 15 Mod 0 Snakeye retarding fin was adopted for use in April 1964. The

Mk 15 Mod 1 was introduced in April 1967, and the Mk 15 Mod 2 in December 1967. The Mk 15

Mod 3 was introduced in April 1970, and was the first version used by the USAF. The other

version used by the Air Force was the Mk 15 Mod 4, which was introduced in November 1971.

The Navy's 66-lb Mk 15 Mod 5 retained the release band and latching lever which had

previously separated from the bomb to prevent damage to composite aircraft structures.

The Mk 15 Mod 6 refined this design. In late 1987, the Navy introduced the BSU-86 to

replace the Mk 15. These fins are painted FSN 36375 gray.

The main disadvantage to weapons fitted with Snakeye fins was that they forced many

aircraft to slow down to deliver them. The Goodyear Aerospace air-inflatable retard (AIR)

fins allow Mk 80 series warheads to be released at much higher airspeeds than were

possible with Snakeyes. The Mk 82 AIR is often referred by its $600, 55-lb fin's

designation: BSU-49. The Navy's Mk 16 uses the BSU-49 shell with a parachute replacing

the ballute and is used with mines.

Mk 84

All 2,000-lb class Mk 84 warheads have an exposed length of 96 in (244 cm) (not

including fuze or nose plug) and are 18 in (46 cm) in diameter. The Mk 84 Mod 0 was an

NTP warhead with an electrical fuze charging well and a single hoisting/suspension lug

located between two 14-in (35-cm) suspension lugs. The first operational bomb, the Mk 84

Mod 1, was introduced in February 1955 and featured 30-in (76-cm) suspension lugs, and

was used extensively in Vietnam. The slightly modified Mk 84 Mod 2 was introduced in

March 1972. The Navy's Mk 84 Mod 3 was introduced in May 1973 and was the first TP Mk 84.

The NTP Mk 84 Mod 4 is the current version used by the Air Force. It was introduced in

August 1974 and eliminated the single hoisting/suspension lug. The Navy's Mk 84 Mod 5 was

a TP version of the Mod 4 and was introduced in May 1979. The NTP Mk 84 Mod 6 and TP Mk

84 Mod 7 were introduced in April 1989 and had their fuze arming wells relocated for

compatibility with F/A-18 bomb racks. Inert Mk 84 s have no unique designation and are

simply normal casings with non-explosive filler. Mk 84s cost about $1,900.

The original Mk 84 Mod 0 conical fin had a 25.3-in (64-cm) fin span, was 53 in (135

cm) long and could be distinguished by its rounded cap behind the fins that did not allow

access to tail fuzing. The 114-lb production fin, the Mk 84 Mod 1, has several doors and

panels to allow access to tail fuzes, a 2 degree fin cant to spin-stabilize the bomb, and

deletion of the rounded tail cap that shortens its length to 49 in (124 cm).

The USAF's Mk 84 AIR uses the 97-lb BSU-50 fin. Designed primarily for the F-111,

its release speed is so high that the Navy did not acquire it. During Desert Storm, the

Navy decided it had a requirement for a retarded Mk 84 and authorized the 87-lb Mk 11

parachute fin for overland use, a function it already filled for underwater mining



While the Vietnam-era Mk 80-series bombs had Navy designations, the Korean-vintage

750-lb M117 has a US Army Air Force designation. Originally classed as a demolition bomb

because its explosive content was about 65 per cent, it was widely used in Vietnam.

Subsequently, the $500 M117 has only been used by the B-52. Developed as the T54, the

original Minol-filled version was designated M117. The M117A1 deleted the single

suspension lug, and was followed by the Minol II-filled M117A2. The M117A3 was filled

with Tritonal. The M117A1E1 was an A2 that could be filled with either Tritonal or Minol

II. The M117A1E2 was an A1 filled with Minol II, and the final version was the M117A1E3,

a modified A1E1 filled with Tritonal. M117s were exported, especially to Israel, which

used them frequently with F-4s during the Yom Kippur War of October 1973.

Originally, low-drag M117s were fitted with 52-lb M131 conical fins that were 49 in

(124 cm) long with a 23-in (58-cm) fin span. In the early 1970s, the 64-lb MAU-103/B

conical fin was introduced, featuring strakes, a 50-in (127-cm) length, and a 19-in

(48-cm) fin span. A modified version of this fin, the MAU-103A/B increased fin-span to 22

in (56 cm). The high-drag bomb, commonly known as the M117R, used the 117-lb MAU-91A/B

and MAU-91B/B 'Snakeye'-type fins through the 1991 Gulf War. These 22-in (56-cm) span

fins are 48 in (122 cm) long and have minor differences in their fin latching mechanisms.

The M117 AIR was adopted after the Gulf War and uses the 95-lb BSU-93/B ballute fin, with

a 20-in (50-cm) fin span and a 40-in (101-cm) length.

The MC-1 is a M117 case filled with 24 US gal (90 liters) of the lethal nerve gas

Sarin (GB). It is fitted with bursters to rupture it on impact, dispersing its contents.

Unlike normal bombs, this chemical bomb is painted medium gray, with a green nose band.

The USAF adopted the 450-lb French Durandal for use by F-111s as the BLU-107 runway

denial weapon. Its delivery requires a non-maneuvering, level flight path at low altitude

across the targeta highly defended runway. The $43,000 penetrator consists of a warhead,

rocket motor and parachute. Designed for carriage on BRU-3 bomb racks, an aerodynamic

fairing is installed over the nose of BLU-107s carried on the front stations, while the

blunt, penetrator nose is exposed on the aft weapons. When released, a braking chute

extracts the main parachute and then drops away. The main chute slows the weapon and

points it at the ground. When the proper downward angle is achieved, the main chute is

released and the rocket motor fires the warhead through up to 16 in (40 cm) of

unreinforced concrete. After it penetrates beneath the runway, a delay fuze detonates the

33-lb warhead, heaving the runway surface upward, thus making it unusable.

French Jaguar As actually dropped Durandels on the first day of the Gulf War.

F-111Fs attacked the vast Iraqi airfields repeatedly, using LGBs almost exclusively. They

had great success in making the runways and taxiways unusable by detonating 2,000-lb LGBs

at their intersections from an altitude safe from ground fire.


The success of the Israeli air force in destroying the Arab air forces on the

ground during the opening minutes of the 1967 Six Day War prompted the major tactical air

forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain to spend billions of dollars on hardened

aircraft shelters (HAS s). These shelters were impervious to most GP bombs. Naturally,

the need arose for a bomb capable of penetrating HASs and other hardened facilities. The

answer to this requirement is built by Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. and is commonly

referred to as the improved 2,000-lb bomb, or I-2000, although its actual designation is

BLU-109. To prevent it from breaking up before it penetrates the hardened exterior of its

target, the BLU-109 has an explosive content of only 25 per cent. The rear of the bomb is

flared slightly so as to be compatible with any Mk 84 fin group. Since all of its targets

require precise aiming, BLU-109s are only used as part of a PGM, although some were

tested with conical fins when carried by F-16 test aircraft. Versions include the Air

Force's BLU-109/B and the Navy's thermal protected BLU-109A/B. Including an FMU-143 fuze,

each BLU-109 costs about $12,500.


The ultimate penetration warhead, the Lockheed BLU-113/B, was developed, produced,

deployed and used in combat in only 17 days. Used for the 4,700-lb GBU-28/B 'Deep Throat'

bombs, they were machined from spare 8-in howitzer barrels to resemble very long

BLU-109s, but with an explosive content of only 15 per cent. Published reports indicate

the bomb was dropped from relatively high altitude, maximizing both its kinetic energy

(five times that of the GBU-24/27) and impact angle, enabling it to penetrate over 100 ft

(30 m) of earth or 20 ft (6 m) of concrete to destroy command bunkers thought safe from

all but nuclear attack.

General-Purpose Bomb Fuzes

Often overlooked, the different fuzes used with GP bombs are absolutely crucial to

inflicting the desired damage to a given target. The most easily identified of all nose

fuzes was the M1A1, commonly known by the term 'daisy cutter'. Developed during Vietnam

as a kind of poor man's proximity fuze, it was nothing more than a length of

explosive-filled pipe with an M904 fuze on the end (usually 36 in long, but also

available in 18- and 24-in lengths). This allowed the bomb to explode before it buried

itself in the soft soil of Vietnam, thus increasing its blast effect.

Mechanical fuzes are identifiable visually by their distinctive vanes or the M905's

ATU-35 anemometer. Most electrical fuzes are cylindrical devices hidden by either a nose

plug or the fin assembly. The FMU-113 proximity fuze is easily identifiable by its black,

hemispherical radome.

General-Purpose Bomb Fuzes

Fuze Location Type Function Uses

FMU-26B/B nose/tail inst. or short delay Mk 82, 84, M117 (LD only)

FMU-54 tail inst. Mk 82, 84, M117 (HD only)

FMU-72 nose/tail elect. long delay Mk 82, 84, M117 (LD only)

FMU-139 nose/tail inst. or short delay Mk 82, 84, M117

FMU-143 tail inst. BLU-109, -113

FMU-113 nose elect. proximity Mk 82, 84, M117 (LD only)

M904E2/3 nose mech. inst. or short delay Mk 82, 84, M117

M905/ATU-35 tail mech. inst. or short delay Mk 82, 84, M117 (LD only)

Blast Bomb

Used in Vietnam to clear helicopter landing zones and in Iraq to detonate

minefields, the 15,000-lb class BLU-82 blast bomb was the largest bomb in the Air Force

arsenal by 1990. During the 1991 Gulf War it was delivered only by MC-130Es, shoved out

the cargo door strapped to a cargo pallet. The bomb's descent was slowed and stabilized

by parachutes, and was detonated by a 4-ft long 'daisy cutter', to ensure an above-ground

explosion and maximize blast and fragmentation effects. The explosive content of the

BLU-82 was about 80 per cent.

Nuclear Bombs

All modern US nuclear bombs are thermonuclear (i.e. hydrogen bombs). Delivery

options are dependent on the bomb/aircraft combination and the type of target destruction

required. All have incorporated parachutes as a standard feature to assist in level

weapon delivery and aircraft escape. While there may be several variants to a given

weapon, only the basic designations are presented here. The weapons are sometimes

referred to by the term 'Mk' instead of 'B'. In line with a change in US policy announced

in September 1991, all tactical nuclear weapons were removed from USN ships and stood

down from alert at USAF bomber bases. No one is happier about that than the crews who

were charged with their care and delivery. By the mid-1990s, while B61 and B83 weapons

remain in the inventory, the capability to quickly mount a massive nuclear strike with

manned aircraft that existed prior to 1990 had virtually evaporated.

Design work on the B28 family of nuclear weapons began in 1954, and they remained

in service until about 1990. A modular design, it was produced as five different types of

bombs and was also used as a warhead on the MGM-13 'Mace' and AGM-28 'Hound Dog'

missiles. Five yields were available, ranging from 70 kT to 1.45 mT, with the tactical

versions having the lower values. Yield of these weapons could not be adjusted in the

field. The B28EX (for 'external' carriage) had a streamlined shape and four tail fins,

but was not equipped with a retarding parachute; it had ground and airburst options.

Several training versions existed, including the BDU-10 and Mk 104 ballistic shapes as

well as the MD-6 and BDU-26 load trainers. The B28RE (for 'retarded, external' carriage)

also had a streamlined shape, but it only had three fins, which were mounted well forward

of the tail. It also had ground and airburst options, but could be delivered from low

altitude. Its ballistic shape was the BDU-4.

The B43 program began in 1955, with the weapons remaining in service until about

1990. A total of five yields were available, with the largest about one megaton; the

yields could not be adjusted in the field. There were two versions designed for external

carriage. B43-0 could only be used for parachute-retarded laydown deliveries. It had a

steel nose spike covered by an aerodynamic nosecone. After the bomb separated from the

aircraft, the nosecone was jettisoned and the spike enabled the bomb to penetrate hard

targets and be held in place for several seconds (to allow the aircraft to escape) before

detonating. The B43-1 was a multi-purpose weapon with a longer nose, which contained a

fuzing radar. It could be used with freefall airburst, retarded airburst (with or without

a ground burst backup), or retarded laydown. Several training versions existed, including

the BDU-18 (freefall) and BDU-8 (retarded) ballistic shapes, as well as the BDU-6 / 24 /

35 load trainers. B43s were carried externally by the A-4, A-6, A-7, B-58, FB-111, F-100,

F-104, F-105 and F-111. They were painted gloss white with chocolate brown radomes.

The B53 was based on the warhead used by the Titan II missile. It was recalled into

the inventory for use by B-52s pending arrival of the B83 weapon. It was targeted against

deeply buried Soviet command centers and submarine pens. While it had freefall and

parachute-retarded airburst options, it would normally use a laydown (delayed surface

burst) or immediate contact (surface) burst. The BDU-13 was its ballistic shape, while

the BDU-9 was its load trainer.

The B57 was designed as a nuclear depth charge, but was later adopted for use as a

low-yield tactical nuclear weapon. Nicknamed the 'Dr Pepper' bomb (after the American

soft drink), its delivery options included laydown, and toss (sometimes called loft) with

either air or surface burst. Several training versions existed, including the BDU-12 and

BDU-20 ballistic shapes, as well as the BDU-11 and BDU-19 load trainers. B57s were

carried externally by the A-4, A-6, A-7, FB-111, F-104, F-105, F-111, F-4, F-16 and

F/A-18. B57s were painted in the same manner as B43s.

The B61, in addition to its strategic use, was the most commonly used weapon by

tactical fighters. Nicknamed the 'Silver Bullet,' because of its shape and color, it gave

a whole new meaning to the claim by an American beer that, 'Silver Bullets won't slow you

down!' Delivery options included freefall or retarded airburst, laydown, and toss (with

either air or surface burst). Several training versions existed, including the BDU-38

ballistic shape, as well as the BDU-36 and BDU-39 load trainers. B61s were carried

externally by the A-4, A-6, A-7, FB-111, F-104, F-105, F-111, F-4, F-16 and F/A-18.

The B83 is designed for attacking hardened strategic targets such as command

bunkers, and nuclear weapon storage sites. It has freefall and retarded airburst, as well

as surface burst and laydown delivery options. Although tested on F-111s, it was probably

only operational with B-2As and B-52Hs (and B-1Bs until they were dedicated to

conventional missions in the mid-1990s).

The B90 was designed to replace the B57 and B61 for use by Navy A-6E, A-7E, F/A-18,

S-3A/B and P-3C. It weighed about 760 lb, was 117 in (297 cm) long and 13 in (33 cm) in

diameter. Flight testing began in mid-1989, with initial drop testing beginning in early

1990. The program was canceled following the change in US nuclear policy in September


Nuclear Weapons Used By US Aircraft

Bomb Years Weight Quan Aircraft

Mk I 45-51 8,900 5 B-29 (Little Boy)

Mk III 47-50 10,300 120 B-29, B-50 (Fat Man)

Mk 4 49-53 10,900 550 B-29, B-36, B-50, AJ-1, AJ-2

Mk 5 52-63 3,175 140 B-29, B-36, B-45, B-47, B-50, B-52, B-66B,

AJ-1, AJ-2

Mk 6 51-62 8,500 1,100 B-29, B-36, B-47, B-50, B-52, AJ-1, AJ-2

Mk 7 52-67 1,700 470 AJ-1, AJ-2, AD-4, AD-5, AD-6, AD-7, A2D, A4D-1,

B-45, B-57B, B-57C, F-84E, F-84F, F-84G,

F-100D, F-100F, F-101A, F-101C, F2H-2B, FJ-4B

Mk 8 52-57 3,250 40 AJ-1, AJ-2, AD-4, A2D, A4D-1, B-45, B-47,

F-84E, F-84F, F-84G, F2H-2B, FJ-4B

Mk 11 56-60 3,500 40 AJ-1, AJ-2, AD-4, AD-7, A2D, A4D-1, B-45, B-47,

(Mk 91) F-84E, F-84F, F-84G, F2H-2B, FJ-4B

Mk 12 54-62 1,100 250 AJ-1, AJ-2, AD-4, AD-7, A2D, A4D-1, B-45,

F-84E, F-84F, F-84G, F-86F, F-86H, F9F-8B,

F2H-2B, FJ-4B

Mk 14 54-54 29,850 5 B-36 (First H-bomb)

Mk 15 55-65 7,600 1,200 B-47B, B-47E, B-52

Mk 17 54-57 42,000 200 B-36

Mk 18 53-56 9,000 90 B-36, B-47

Mk 21 55-57 15,000 275 B-36, B-47

Mk 24 54-56 42,000 105 B-36

Mk 27 58-64 3,150 700 A3D, A3J

B28EX 58-8? 2,040 A-6, F-100D, F-100F, F-101A, F-101C, F104A,

F-104C, F-4

B28IN 58-80 1,980 A3J, B-47B, B-47E, B-52, B-66B, F-105B, F-105D

B28RE 59-90 2,170 4,500 A-6, F-100D, F-100F, F104A, F-104C

B28RI 60-80 2,320 B-47B, B-47E, B-52

B28FI 62-90 2,320 B-52

Mk 105 58-77 1,500 600 USN (W34 Hotpoint)

Mk 36 56-62 17,500 940 B-47B, B-47E, B-52

Mk 39 57-66 10,000 700 B-47B, B-47E, B-52, B-58 (pod)

Mk 41 60-76 10,000 500 B-47B, B-47E, B-52

B43-0 61-76 1,000 2,060 A-4, A-6, A-7, B-47B, B-47E, B-52, B-58,

F-100D, F-100F, F104A, F-104C, F-4

B43-1 62-90 2,125 F-100D, F-100F, F-101A, F-101C, F104A, F-104C,

FB-111, F-111, F-4

Mk 53 62- 8,850 340 B-47B, B-47E, B-52, B-58 (pod), B-70

B57 63- 510 3,100 A-4, A-6, A-7, F-100D, F-100F, F-104G, F-105B,

F-105D, F-111, FB-111, F-4, F/A-18

B61 66- 720 3,150 A-4, A-6, A-7. F-100D, F-100F, F-104G, F-105D,

F-111, FB-111, F-4, F-15, F-16, F/A-18

B83 83- 2,400 1,000 B-52, B-1, B-2

AIR-2 56-84 219 3,150 (W25) F-89J, F-101B

AGM-12D 61-70 150 100 (W45) F-100D, F-100F, F-105D

AIM-26 61-72 50 2,000 (W54) F-89J, F-101B, F-102A, F-106A, F-106B

AGM-28 60-76 1,675 600 (W28) B-52

AGM-62 70-79 300 (W72) F-4

AGM-69 71-91 1,200 (W69) B-52G, B-52H, FB-111A

AGM-86 81- 2,000+ (W80) B-52G, B-52H

AGM-127 91- B-52H

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Guided Weapons


Paveway Laser-Guided Bombs

World War II bombers had a circular error probable (CEP)the radius within which

half of their bombs would fallof 3,300 ft (1,005 m). In practical terms, this meant that

9,000 bombs were required to achieve a 90 per cent likelihood of destroying a 60 100 ft

(18 30 m) building. By Vietnam, only 300 bombs were required. Then came laser-guided


Laser guided bombs (LGB s) were arguably the most revolutionary improvement in

bombing accuracy in the history of military aviation. These weapons were eventually

redesignated under the larger GBU class, which also included the other class of 'smart',

unpowered weapons, electro-optical guided bombs. A computer simulation by Texas

Instruments in the early 1970s asserted that a group of 100 targets which would require

21,000 manually aimed bombs or 4,000 continuously computed impact point (CCIP) aimed bombs

would only require 100 LGBs. Although actual performance was not quite as impressive (no

weapon has ever achieved 100 per cent success), actual results from the 1991 Gulf War

proved LGBs to be unsurpassed for destroying point targets. Although the LGBs are more

expensive than unguided bombs, in the more important comparison of 'cost per target

killed' they are far cheaper, both in terms of ordnance expended and crew/aircraft

exposure to enemy defenses.

Operational US Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs

Bomb CCG Warhead Weight AFG Remarks

GBU-10C/B MAU-169/B WS-2123

GBU-10D/B MAU-169A/B Mk 84 2,083 lb MXU-651/B

GBU-10E/B MAU-169B, C, D, E & F/B

GBU-10F/B MAU-169C/B & D/B

GBU-10G/B MAU-169/B

GBU-10H/B MAU-169A/B BLU-109/B 2,103 lb MXU-651/B 'GBU-10I'

GBU-10J/B MAU-169B & D/B

GBU-12B/B MAU-169/B WS-212D

GBU-12C/B MAU-169A/B Mk 82 611 lb MXU-650/B

GBU-12D/B MAU-169B, C, D, E & F/B

GBU-16/B MAU-169/B

GBU-16A/B MAU-169A/B Mk 83 1,110 lb MXU-667/B USN only

GBU-16B/B MAU-169D, E, & F/B

Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs

Of all the Paveway I LGBs used in Vietnam, only those based on the Mk 80 series

bombs were retained and improved by the performance enhancement program (PEP). Paveway II

bombs were externally distinguishable from Paveway Is by their 'pop-out' wings which made

handling and carriage easier. Their MAU-169 computer control groups (CCG) differed from

the Paveway I's MAU-157 in its ability to guide on coded laser illumination, thus making

it possible to attack multiple targets simultaneously while reducing the probability of

successful countermeasures. To incorporate this feature, pulse repetition frequency (PRF)

selectors were mounted on the exterior of the CCG. Both Paveway I and II bombs used

'bang-bang' CCGs that utilized full control deflection to alter a bomb's trajectory, thus

shortening its normal ballistic range. For this reason, Paveway I and II bombs were

dropped ballistically, with the laser only being turned on during the last few seconds of

flight to refine the impact point. Paveway II GBU-10s cost $22,000 and GBU-12s $9,000


All operational Paveway II weapons had 1-in (2.5-cm) wide ID stripes on the left

side of their wings (4 in/10 cm long), canards, and CCG (both 3 in/7.6 cm long).These

stripes were yellow for GBU-10s and orange for GBU-12s.

Paveway III Laser-Guided Bombs

Paveway III low-level laser-guided bombs (LLLGB s) use proportional guidance CCGs

to increase both bomb range and accuracy. LLLGB kits were developed for both the 500-lb

GBU-22/B and 2,000-lb GBU-24 bombs but, at a price of $65,000 each, only the latter

generated a performance increase warranting production. The GBU-24/B uses a Mk 84 warhead

while the GBU-24A/B uses the BLU-109/B penetration warhead. The latter warhead requires

the ADU-548 adapter kit with saw-tooth adapters to smooth air flow over the tail section

and a hardback to compensate for the reduced diameter of the BLU-109 warhead. The GBU-27/B

Paveway III bomb is modified to fit within the F-117A weapons bay. It has shorter canards

and Paveway II wings and an adapter collar between the CCG and the warhead shortened from

the GBU-24's 9 in (23 cm) to only 6 in (15 cm).

The GBU-28/B ' Deep Throat ' bomb was developed during the 1991 Gulf War to

implement attacks against several deeply buried bunker complexes in the Baghdad area

containing the main Iraqi command and control facilities. With 20-ft (6-m) reinforced

concrete ceilings buried 100 ft (30 m) in the ground, these bunkers were impervious to

ordinary conventional bombs. Initial discussions about how to attack this class of target

were held in the weeks leading up to the 15 January UN deadline, with the weapon referred

to as the hard target penetrating munition (HTPM). The final Lockheed-proposed design

called for an 8-in (20-cm) howitzer barrel machined to a shape resembling an elongated

BLU-109 and fitted the GBU-27's airfoil group, but with the GBU-24's longer adapter

collar. The final go-ahead to develop the bomb was not granted until 11 February 1991,

three weeks into the air war. Initially, four bombs were constructed, with two used for

testing and the others reserved for combat use. The barrels were taken out of storage at

Watervilet Arsenal in New York, cut and machined to size, fitted with an artillery shell

nose and shipped to Eglin AFB where they were loaded with explosives. Because of their

length, each bomb nose was lowered into a pit and filled with explosive filler by means of

a bucket brigade (after giving the safety officer some Valium).

Meanwhile, an evaluation was carried out to determine which would be the better

delivery vehicle, the F-111F or F-15E. The bomb proved too long for carriage on the

F-15E's centerline station, both because of take-off and landing clearance and loading

requirements. (The GBU-28's suspension lugs are 10 in/25 cm farther forward when used on

the F-15E when compared with the F-111F.) Also, the bomb's requirement for four arming

lanyards to be pulled would have required a computer delivery from the F-15E, which in

turn would have required non-existent ballistics and a risky computer change. The F-111F

could drop the bomb with manual ballistics, but faced a minor problem in that it could

only lower its flaps to 30 degrees (instead of the normal 34 degrees) for take-off while

carrying the bomb. Of greater concern was the F-111F's longer moment arm (the distance

from the aircraft centerline at which the bomb was carried). The bomb was first flown on

an F-15E on Wednesday 20 February (configured with LANTIRN pods, a clean centerline

station, the GBU-28 on left the wing, a Mk 84 LDGP on right winguntil after take-off when

it was jettisonedand shoulder-mounted AIM-9L/Ms), while weather delayed the F-111F flight

until next day. No operationally significant restrictions were found with either airframe

as a result of these flights.

Dropping the GBU-28 required delivery at high subsonic speeds from above 25,000 ft

(7,620 m) to achieve the desired kinetic energy and impact angle. In addition to the

airframe constraints already discussed, the F-15E's LANTIRN pods, designed for use at low

altitude, were not pressurized and would arc if used at high altitude. Also, a second

aircraft was required to lase the target from altitudes compatible with LANTIRN. (Later in

1991, a technique was developed at Eglin to permit F-15E delivery of the GBU-28 using the

computer program in use by aircraft still in Saudi Arabia. It required use of Mk 84

ballistics to establish azimuth aiming, then switching to Mk 20 ballistics to establish


On Friday afternoon, a reluctant decision was made to proceed with the F-111F, and a

test drop was conducted at the Nellis AFB, Nevada range complex on Saturday. The test

dropped was deemed successful, with the bomb burying itself so deep in the ground that it

was never recovered. The final test before use was a sled run at Holloman AFB, New Mexico

to evaluate bomb fuzingthe weapon cleanly punched through a 20-ft (6-m) reinforced

concrete wall and continued another 0.5 mile (0.8 km) before coming to earth. By the time

this happened, the two combat bombs were en route to Taif, Saudi Arabia on a C-141, still

warm to the touch from the freshly poured molten explosive filler. The bombs were airborne

again only four hours after arriving, this time on a one-way trip to Baghdad, arriving

just four hours before the end of the war.

Initially only 30 GBU-28s were procured for use by F-111Fs and F-15Es. In FY94, an

additional 100 'GBU-28 follow-on' bombs were ordered for delivery in FY95 at a unit cost

of about $170,000. These differed from the original weapons in that their software enables

them to be delivered from lower altitudes.

All operational Paveway III weapons had 1-in (2.5-cm) wide ID stripes on the left

side of their wings (3.5 in/8.9 cm long), canards and CCG (both 3 in/7.6 cm long).These

stripes were gray for GBU-24s and green for both the GBU-27 and 28.

The successor to Deep Throat is the Boosted Penetrator. This is projected to be a

2,250 to 3,000-lb bomb fitted with a rocket motor to drive it deep underground. Designed

for internal carriage by B-2As and F-117As, the 116-in (295-cm) long bomb could also be

carried externally by other aircraft, including the F-16 and F/A-18.

US Paveway III Laser-Guided Bombs

Bomb CCG Warhead Weight AFG Remarks

GBU-24/B WGU-12/B Mk 84 2,315 lb BSU-84/B

GBU-24A/B WGU-12B/B BLU-109/B 2,335 lb BSU-84/B

GBU-24B/B WGU-39/B BLU-109A/B 2,392 lb BSU-84/B USN

GBU-27/B WGU-25/B Mk 84 2,150 lb BSU-88/B F-117

GBU-27A/B WGU-25/B BLU-109/B 2,170 lb BSU-88/B F-117

GBU-28/B WGU-36/B BLU-113/B 4,576 lb BSU-92/B

Pave Penny

The AN/AAS-35 Pave Penny target identification set, laser (TISL), is used by the

OA-10A and A-10A, and limited numbers of F-16s. It is a direct descendent of Vietnam-era

Pave Arrow (F-100) and Pave Sword (F-4) programs. Not a designator, this laser detector is

carried on its own pylon from the forward right fuselage of the A-10. It is used to sense

laser energy from ground- or air-based designators reflecting off targets, displaying a

cueing symbol on the HUD to assist the pilot in locating the target. Although this

information could be used for the delivery of laser-guided ordnance, in practice the

targets would normally be attacked with 'dumb' bombs or (in the case of the A-10) gunfire.

Pave Tack

The AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack pod features all the modes first developed for the

Vietnam-era Pave Knife pod. However, unlike earlier laser designators, Pave Tack is

totally integrated with the host aircraft's avionics system, allowing it to be cued to

where the radar is looking. This capability, in concert with the replacement with an

imaging infra-red sensor of the TV sensors used by earlier designators, enables Pave

Tack-equipped aircraft to autonomously deliver LGBs at night from extremely low altitudes.

Earlier systems had relied heavily on 'buddy' lasing, with one aircraft lasing the target

for others, usually from medium altitudes.

It was originally planned to equip 180 F-4Es and 60 RF-4Cs with Pave Tack. However,

because of a protracted and difficult development program, the actual number was

substantially lower. A practical drawback to using the 1,385-lb pod with the F-4E was its

large size, which required carriage on the centerline station, displacing the 600-US gal

2270-liter) external fuel tank. In the end, Phantom crews referred to the pod as 'Pave

Drag'. About 150 pods were built, and all eventually ended up being used by F-111Fs (and

later Australian F-111Cs). The F-111F community used Pave Tack to great effect during the

1991 Gulf War, using it to deliver the majority of LGBs employed by the USAF against Iraq.

Unlike on the F-4E, the F-111C/F Pave Tack installation mounts the pod on a rotating

cradle in the weapon bay. The outer weapon bay doors have a 'cut out' section towards the

rear, while the inner ones are replaced by the cradle. Although normally installed, the

cradle can be removed and replaced by weapon bay doors in about an hour. Looking forward,

the cradle rotates clockwise to stow the pod and counter clockwise to expose it. The pod

is painted FSN 34087 olive drab with predominately black markings. The FLIR window has a

milky amber color, while the two smaller laser windows are basically clear, but have a

distinct bluish tint.

Paveway Fuze Options

Fuze Location Type Remarks

FMU-81 nose or tail short delay Paveway II & III

FMU-124 nose or tail inst. Paveway II

FMU-139 nose or tail inst. or short delay Paveway II & III

FMU-143 tail inst. or short delay penetration warheads


Low-Altitude, Navigation and Targeting, Infra-Red, for Night (LANTIRN) emerged from

the 'black' world in late 1979. Named by then commander of Tactical Air Command, General

Wilbur Creech, it was perceived by the Carter administration as a low-cost alternative to

the recently proposed F-15 Strike Eagle, allowing F-16s and A-10s to attack Warsaw Pact

armored formations at night. As originally conceived, LANTIRN was to cost $500,000, be

contained in a single pod and employ a laser radar (LADAR) terrain-following system. Its

targeting FLIR, when coupled with automatic target recognition, promised to make possible

the remarkable performance of automatically launching six Mavericks at separate tanks

within 20 seconds, while distinguishing friend from foe in the process.

Then reality set in. By the time it was fielded, LANTIRN was no longer low cost and

had become an integral part of the F-15E's avionics. Since lasers can not see through

clouds, the first thing to go was the LADAR, being replaced with a single

terrain-following radar (TFR), very similar to what had been used for years by the F-111.

Very early on, it was recognized that there were high and low risk portions to the program

and action was taken to separate these. The TFR was combined with the wide field of view

Navigation FLIR (NavFLIR) to form one pod, while the much more challenging technologies

were merged into a second, Targeting FLIR (TgtFLIR) pod.

The AN/AAQ-13 NavFLIR pod had a reasonably straightforward gestation. To facilitate

low-level flight at night, it overlays cues from the TFR on the FLIR image displayed full

scale on the aircraft's wide field of view (WFOV) HUD. The pilot has the ability to

'snap-look' roughly one FOV left, right, up, or down, with the control switch

spring-loaded to the 'straight ahead' position. The total area available for the pilot to

look at with the FLIR defines its 'field of regard' (FOR). Although the TFR generates

automatic terrain-following commands, integration of these with the older flight control

system of the F-15E proved exceeding difficult, forcing 'Beagle' pilots to focus on the

task of manually flying low level at night like their lives depend on it, which they quite

literally do. Without auto-TFR, the F-15Es are limited to 'under the weather' terrain

following, unlike soon-to-be-discarded F-111s which have routinely flown 'in weather' TFR

since the mid-1960s. The F-16's fly-by-wire flight control system was able to integrate

auto TFR quite easily, but the extra drag created by the LANTIRN pods exacerbate its

already anemic low-altitude range performance.

The AN/AAQ-14 TgtFLIR pod eventually had to settle for less lofty goals than had

been initially set for it. Its target recognition objectives drove a requirement for

enough picture elements, or 'pixels' to define with great certainty not only that it was

looking at a tank, but whose tank, and at a range that would allow a Maverick to be locked

onto and launched at it. The number of pixels that could be packed into a given space were

limited by the size of the pod, and the two requirements drove the field of view

available. The TgtFLIR's very narrow field of view (NFOV) was also expected to

automatically boresight the six Maverick missiles carried on two LAU-88 triple rail

launchers. To overcome a relatively slow gimble rate by the Maverick seekers, and

operating on the presumption that all the targets would be located in relatively close

proximity to one another, the pod would not only direct the first missile's seeker to its

target, but also the second's, so it would be looking close to where it needed to be when

its turn came to locate a target. However, it was soon discovered that just the slop

between the missile and its rail could result in the missile's seeker being outside the

FOV of the TgtFLIR. Add to that the considerable amount of flexing done by the F-16 wing,

and the whole idea began to unravel. Eventually, the pod was accepted without the

auto-recognition feature, which continued in development, although the requirement to

blunt hordes of Red armor faded away with the Cold War. By the time of the Gulf War,

TgtFLIRs had just started to become operational, and had a performance roughly comparable

to the older Pave Tack system used operationally by F-111Fs for 10 years in a package

about one-fourth as heavy.

LANTIRN Pod Characteristics

Pod Length Diameter Weight Viewing Areas

AN/AAQ-13 72.0 in 14 in 450 lb 21 28 deg. FOV 77 84 deg. FOR

AN/AAQ-14 98.5 in 15 in 530 lb 6 6 deg. WFOV 1.7 1.7 deg. NFOV

Modular Guided-Weapon System

The GBU-15 modular guided-weapon system (MGWS) bomb family was initially called

EOGB-II. Originally there were to be many versions, using both the Mk 84 bomb and SUU-54

dispenser. Two types of wings were designed: a cruciform wing (CW) for short-range bombs

and a planar wing (PW) for long range. The former were known as modular guided glide bombs

(MGGB, and later MGGB-I), and the latter as MGGB-II or the extended range version

(MGGB-ERV). The GBU-15 CW weapon was first proposed for use during the 1973 war, but at

that time only two bombs' datalink pods were being tested. More bombs would not have been

available until early 1974, so the idea quickly died (although Israel became a major

GBU-15 customer). The MGWS test program initially suffered from abysmal reliability

problems, with the planar wing version eventually being canceled.

Production weapons are basically Maverick missile seekers mated to Mk 84 warheads

and fitted with large wings. In practice, they are usually launched from beyond the range

of enemy defenses and guided by datalink, often from a second aircraft well away from the

combat zone, allowing the launching aircraft to concentrate on its egress from the target

area. While they are normally guided manually all the way to impact, GBU-15s can also be

locked on at any point during flight, called lock-on after launch (LOAL). Datalink control

is exercised through the AXQ-14 pod, originally called electronic datalink pod (MGGB EDLP

). After Desert Storm, the AXQ-14 was gradually replaced by the newer (but externally

identical) ZSW-1 pod.

As many as two of TAC's 4th TFW squadrons were operational with GBU-15 and Pave

Tack. Initial plans to equip USAFE F-4Es at Spangdahlem AB, Germany with GBU-15 were

abandoned in favor of Lakenheath F-111Fs. The only PACAF F-4E unit to employ the GBU-15

was the 3rd TFS at Clark AB, Philippines. With their deactivation in 1991, this

workload-intensive weapon was employed only by USAFE's 493rd TFS F-111Fs. They launched 70

GBU-15s against well-defended, high-value targets during Desert Storm. Both clear

electro-optical (EO) and amber-colored imaging infra-red (IIR) seeker heads were used (the

former costing about $195,000, and the latter about $300,000 each). All Mk 84 versions of

the GBU-15 were expended during Desert Storm, with slightly more of the IIR seekers and

'short chord' wings being used. The original 'long-chord' and the newer 'short-chord'

wings both have the same glide performance. GBU-15s utilize the FMU-124 instantaneous or

short-delay impact fuze.

The GBU-15I was introduced after Desert Storm. It is only configured with the

BLU-109 warhead and short-chord wings, using the ADK-723 adapter kit to compensate for its

narrower diameter when compared with Mk 84-based versions. Both the GBU-15 and GBU-15I

became operational with F-15Es during 1993.

Trainer designations include the GBU-15(V)1, 2, 31, and 32(T-1)/B. These are captive

devices normally used in conjunction with datalink pods, with one aircraft representing

the launching aircraft and the other the bomb. The WSO in the 'launching' aircraft directs

the 'bomb' using datalink commands which are actually flown by the pilot of the 'bomb'


When the F-111F employs the GBU-15, the datalink pod is mounted on the aft fuselage

station where the ALQ-131 ECM pod is normally located. Since it is not required, the Pave

Tack is removed and the shallow (two-band) ALQ-131 is mounted on its cradle. When flown on

the F-15E, the bombs are carried on the wing pylons with the datalink pod on the


MGWS Bombs

Bomb Seeker Warhead Fin Group Weight Remarks

GBU-15(V)-1 DSU-27 Mk 84 MXU-724 2,510 lb long-chord EO

GBU-15(V)-2 WGU-10 long-chord IIR

GBU-15(V)-21 DSU-27 Mk 84 MXU-787 2,335 lb short-chord EO

GBU-15(V)-22 WGU-10 2,385 lb short-chord IIR

GBU-15(V)-31 DSU-27 BLU-109 MXU-787 2,400 lb 'GBU-15I' EO

GBU-15(V)-32 WGU-10 2,450 lb 'GBU-15I' IIR


This is a Northrop/Hughes-developed proposal to provide the B-2A with a stop-gap PGM

capability until JDAM becomes operational in 1999. The GPS-aided targeting system (GATS)

portion of the program is managed by the B-2 program office and uses the aircraft's

synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and GPS positioning information to accurately determine

target location. This involves making an initial target identification using the

aircraft's SAR, then flying a low-observable arc towards the target to create a relative

bearing change of at least 25 degree from the initial SAR image. A second image will then

be generated and used to automatically refine aim points and eliminate GPS-bias (the

differential between a target's real location and its GPS location, which can be as much

as 30 ft/2.8 m). Initially, GATS will be loaded with preplanned aim points which the

aircrew will be able to refine in flight. When Block 30 aircraft become available in

early-1997, they will be capable of inflight retargeting. The first set of Block 30 stores

management software began flight tests in a KC-135 in November 1994.

In 1994, Congress appropriated $25 million to procure 128 GPS-Aided Munitions (GAM

s). This 2,000-lb class, Mk 84-based weapon has a tail-mounted guidance section containing

a combined inertial measuring unit (IMU) and GPS receiver, a guidance and control unit

(GCU), and an airfoil group. GAM has an eight to 10-mile (13 to 16-km) long footprint when

launched from an altitude of 40,000 ft (12,192 m). The 128 GAMs will allow eight B-2As to

be equipped with 16 RLA-mounted weapons, each capable of being directed against a separate


The first six of 28 demonstration versions of GAM were delivered by late 1994 for

ground and flight testing. The first drop test was conducted on 23 November 1994 from an

F-4 at China Lake, California. It was released from 37,500 ft (11,430 m), traveled 32,000

ft (9,754 m) downrange, and achieved a 90 degree impact angle 44 ft (13 m) from its

intended target. Two more drops from an F-4 occurred in December 1994. The first was from

16,000 ft (4,877 m) downrange, achieving a 110 degree impact angle. The other flew 25,000

ft (7,620 m) downrange and 10,000 ft (3,048 m) cross range.

Three more GAM drop tests from a B-2 are scheduled in 1995, prior to the beginning

tests of the entire GATS/GAM system in August. Initial operational capability is expected

in July 1996. Expected accuracy is 45-60 ft (14-18 m) for Block 10 aircraft, and 20 ft (6

m) for Block 20.


Joint direct attack munition (JDAM) is an Air Force-led amalgamation of programs to

increase the accuracy and lethality of conventional bombs. Before it became known as JDAM

in early 1994, the program had been known as JDAM-Phase 1 (JDAM-1) and inertially aided

munition (IAM). The goal is to permit the accurate delivery of conventional bombs against

multiple targets per pass, overcoming the limitations weather placed on the delivery of

PGMs. The weapon will use a steerable tail unit coupled to a relatively inexpensive

GPS-aided inertial guidance system to hit within 43 ft (13 m) of preprogrammed targets in

any weather. It is hoped that advanced GPS techniques can lower this figure to as little

as 25 ft (7.6 m).

A draft request for proposals (RFP) was released in October 1992, followed by a

formal RFP in January 1993. Tests using GBU-15(V)-1 airframes with seeker heads replaced

by INS/GPS guidance packages were conducted in early 1993 from a Block 40 F-16C (88-0441).

In six test launches under varying conditions, impact distances ranged from 6.6 to 36 ft

(2 to 11 m) from the target.

JDAM engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contracts were awarded in April

1994 to Martin Marietta and McDonnell Douglas ($13.8 and $35.0 million, respectively).

Eliminated from the program were Hughes, Lockheed, Rockwell/Boeing, Texas Instruments, and

Raytheon. Initially planned only for 2,000-lb class Mk 84 and BLU-109 bombs, in 1994 a

need was recognized for a 1,000-lb Mk 83-based JDAM variant for the F-22, and the Navy

expressed interest in ensuring it is compatible with its aircraft. The 2,000-lb weapon is

designated GBU-29, while the 1,000-lb weapon will be known as the GBU-30.

Selection of the winning EMD competitor is scheduled for October 1995, with the

placement of an initial production order of 500 kits. Initial JDAM flight testing will

begin in October 1996 with the F-16.

The Navy priority for GBU-29 capability is the F/A-18C/D in 1999, followed by the

F/A-18E/F and F-14 in 2000, and eventually the AV-8B, P-3, and S-3.

The first Air Force aircraft to become operational with the GBU-29 will be the B-2A

in 1997. It will be followed by the B-52 in 2000, B-1B in 2001, and F-16C/D in 2002. Plans

for the F-15E are uncertain at this point. Testing of the GBU-30 with the F-22 will begin

in 2001 following initial testing with the F-16.

The USAF plans to buy 59,000 GBU-29s and 3,000 GBU-30s, while the Navy plans to buy

12,000 GBU-30s. Ultimately, enough kits may be bought to equip 30-50 per cent US Mk 82 and

Mk 84 inventories, along with another 35,000-50,000 kits for allies. Unit price in 1991

was expected to be as much as $53,000. However, in large part because of JDAM's status as

a acquisition pilot program, by 1995 goal each guidance kit is expected to cost about

$40,000 initially, with the cost eventually falling to less than $25,000. At those prices,

total acquisition figures could rise to 100,000 to 150,000, with the goal being to

eventually eliminate 'dumb bombs'.

The name advanced all-up round (AAUR) was adopted in 1994 for a program previously

known as joint programmable fuze (JPF) and JDAM-Phase 2 (JDAM-2). Its goal is to develop a

500-lb bomb with improved accuracy over the previous Mk 82.

Also renamed in 1994 was the JDAM performance improvement program (JDAM PIP), which

had previously been known as JDAM-Phase 3 (JDAM-3), and the adverse weather

precision-guided munition (AWPGM). With the goal of reducing miss distance for the 14-nm

(26-km) ranged weapon against preprogrammed targets to under 10 ft (3 m) in any weather,

it focuses on three areas: reducing target location errors, increasing GPS accuracy, and

adding a seeker to the nose of the weapon. Beginning in October 1993, several terminal

guidance seeker concepts were evaluated, with particular attention being paid to seeker

performance in battlefield smoke and haze. Candidates that survived this evaluation were

synthetic-aperture and millimeter-wave radars, as well as terrain comparison. In addition,

imaging infra-red was selected for use on the AGM-154C JSOW, but no decision will be made

until FY98 about which seeker to fit to JDAM.

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Air-to-Ground Missiles


AGM-45 Shrike

Produced by Texas Instruments, the 400-lb class AGM-45 Shrike was the first

anti-radiation missile (ARM). Developed by the Naval Weapons Center as the ASM-N-10 during

the Vietnam War, it became operational in 1965, with production of 16,000 ending in 1978.

All missiles are 8 in (20 cm) in diameter, with a 36.3-in (92-cm) wing span and an 18.0-in

(46-cm) tail span. Most Shrikes are 120 in (305 cm) long, with the -7 the longest at 122

in (310 cm). Weights of the $89,000 missile vary between 394 and 426 lb, depending on the

components used. Except as noted otherwise. all exterior surfaces are FSN 17875 gloss


Both the AGM-45A and AGM-45B missiles use the same guidance sections, which

determine the 'dash' number of the missiles. They operate in four modes: captive, powered,

and free flight, followed by terminal guidance. During captive flight the missile provides

the crew with target detection signals by using aircraft power. Powered flight defines the

period of rocket motor burn and can be commanded either automatically or manually. There

are three types of free flight functioning: most missiles simply glide until the gas

generator in the control section is activated by the electronic attitude sensor (EAS).

This component monitors flight path angle by sensing pressure changes and fires the gas

generator after the missile descends through 18,000 ft (5,486 m) and the desired dive

angle is reached. In missiles modified for dive delivery the EAS is bypassed and the gas

generator fires three seconds after launch, just after motor burnout. In missiles prior to

the -9, this function has to be selected before flight by installing a component called a

dive plug. In the -9 and -10 missiles EAS bypass (EASB) allows this option to be selected

in flight. During terminal guidance power from the gas generator allows the control fins

to react to commands from the guidance section, directing the missile towards or, in the

case of the gravity bias (G-Bias) missiles, just above the target.

Shrike guidance sections are designed to attack radars which emit in different

frequencies. Unlike the later HARM, which can be programmed, Shrike seekers are 'hard

wired' for a single function. The Mk 22 (AGM-45-2) was withdrawn from service about 1985.

The Mk 23 is an inert section used with the ground loading trainer (ATM-45A-1) and

separation test item (ATM-45-2). Although similar to the Mk 22, its single-piece shell

lacks a radome. The Mk 24 (AGM-45-3) and Mk 25 (AGM-45-4) are used by both the Air Force

and Navy. Use of the Mk 36 (AGM-45-6) requires use of a special control section. The Mk 41

(ATM-45-6) exercise guidance section contains no fuzing. The Mk 37 (AGM-45-7) is used only

by the Air Force. The Mk 77 (ATM-45-8) is an unfuzed trainer converted from the Mk 36. The

Mk 49 (AGM-45-9 and -9A), and Mk 50 (AGM-45-10) are only used by the Air Force. These

sections have no color bands. The Mk 22's radome was FSN 17038 gloss black, and the Mk

23's is FSN 15080 gloss blue. All other radomes are FSN 17875 gloss white.

The AGM-45As and Bs each have three interchangeable warheads that detonate either

when signaled by the guidance section or upon impact. The Mk 5 (AGM-45A/B), WAU-8

(AGM-45A), and WAU-9 (AGM-45B) warheads have a 2-in (5-cm) wide bands of FSN 14187 gloss

green, indicating the presence of a red phosphorus (RP) spotting charge, and FSN 23538

semi-gloss dark yellow. The Mk 86 (AGM-45A/B) warhead has only a single 2-in (5-cm) wide

yellow band. The Mk 83 (ATM-45A/B) inert practice warheads are FSN 15080 gloss blue. The

Mk 85 (ATM-45A/B-4) is FSN 15080 gloss blue, with a yellow band like that on the Mk 86.

The full-deflection (bang-bang) Mk 1 and Mk 5 control sections have a 2-in (5-cm)

wide band of FSN 30117 flat brown, while the inert Mk 2 is overall FSN 15080 gloss blue.

All are fitted with four, 14.0-in (36-cm) high Mk 2 wings, which are sometimes left off of

captive trainers.

The AGM-45A uses the single burn 22,000 lb-second total impulse Mk 39 motor with a

2.8-second burn time. A second AGM-45A motor, the Mk 53 was withdrawn from service in the

mid-1980s. The AGM-45B introduced the dual burn 22,300 lb-second total impulse Mk 78

motor, with an initial 1.0-second acceleration thrust supplemented by a 20-second period

of lower sustained thrust. Motors have a 2 to 3-in (5 to 7.6-cm) wide band of FSN 30117

flat brown about 8 in (20 cm) from the front edge of the motor. The inert Mk 46 is FSN

15080 gloss blue. All motors are fitted with four, 5.7-in (14.5-cm) high Mk 21 tail fins.

As with the wings, these are sometimes left off captive trainers.

The ATM-45A-1 is a non-flight qualified ground handling trainer. The ATM-45A-2 was

used for safe separation testing of the AGM-45A. The ATM-45A-3 can be fitted with any

seeker and used either as a captive operational trainer or to train ground crew. The

ATM-45A-4 and ATM-45A-6 are used for live-fire operational training. The ATM-45B-2 was

used for safe separation testing of the AGM-45B. The ATM-45B-4 and ATM-45B-6 are used for

live-fire operational training.

Shrikes can be launched from the LAU-34 or the newer LAU-118, also used for the

AGM-88. The Shrike in USAF service can be carried by F-4Gs and 'Wild Weasel' F-16Cs. It

has also been used by the USN and exported to Britain during the Falklands War and to

Israel during the 1973 Yom Kipper War. With little or no capability against modern SAMs,

the Shrike has almost passed into history. However, they are kept in storage 'just in


Developed during the Vietnam War as a subsonic, launch-and-leave replacement for the

AGM-12 Bullpup, the Hughes Maverick has continued to evolve and remained in production

through FY91, with second-source supplier Raytheon receiving the final contract. While

utilizing a variety of guidance and warhead sections, all AGM-65s are the same size (98

in/249 cm long, 12 in/30 cm in diameter, with a 29-in/74-cm fin span). The original 125-lb

high-explosive, shaped-charge WDU-20 has been replaced in later Mavericks with the 300-lb

WDU-24 blast-penetration warhead. All versions use the same rocket motor, with maximum

launch range dependent on target size and seeker performance. While maximum aerodynamic

range is about 12.5 nm (23 km), a more realistic range is nearer 8 nm (15 km). During the

Gulf War, over 90 per cent of the AGM-65s fired were from A-10s. Maverick is a very

workload-intensive weapon which pilots of faster, single-seat aircraft, such as the F-16,

found very difficult to employ in combat.

AGM-65A has a 5 degree field of view (FOV) electro-optical (EO) television seeker

that the pilot uses to acquire the target. After designating the target and ensuring that

the missile is locked on, he fires it and can either select another target or commence

escape maneuvering. The $22,000 missile was introduced in 1972, and all were FSN 17875

gloss white. During the Vietnam War, 99 were fired operationally with an 88 per cent

success rate. Four hundred were transferred from US stocks to Israel during the 1973 Yom

Kippur War.

AGM-65B features an optional 2.5 degree FOV. Called 'scene-magnification', it can

be locked onto the same target as an AGM-65A from twice the range. Both missiles can be

identified by their clear seeker domes. Introduced in 1975, the $64,000 AGM-65Bs were

initially painted white, with the words 'SCENE MAG' stenciled on the side of the seeker.

However, many were later painted FSN 34087 olive drab. During Desert Storm, A-10s fired

1,682 AGM-65Bs.

AGM-65C was a semi-active laser (SAL) version developed in the late 1970s. However,

in 1979 both the USAF and USN decided to forgo this seeker in favor of IIR guidance and

this missile was never produced.

AGM-65D was the first Maverick with an imaging infra-red (IIR) seeker. Introduced

in 1983, it first became operational during 1986 with 81st TFW A-10As. The advantage of

the $110,000 IIR missile over earlier EO versions is its ability to be used at night and

in conditions of smoke and haze. With the IIR seeker, the missile can be locked on to

targets at greater ranges than it is capable of flying aerodynamically. These missiles are

FSN 34087 olive drab with a silverish seeker, similar to some sunglasses. During Desert

Storm, A-10s fired 3,128 AGM-65Ds.

AGM-65E is the operational version of the earlier AGM-65C. The USMC is the only

user of SAL guidance, and this version became the first to feature the larger warhead. SAL

permits ground troops to designate targets for close air support. During the Gulf War,

this capability was used fewer than 10 times. The AGM-65E was first delivered in 1985 and

is FSN 36375 gray.

AGM-65F entered production in 1987, combining the C's larger warhead with the D's

IIR seeker. Built for the Navy, it has a modified tracking function optimized for

attacking ships. It also introduced inflight selectable fuzing to allow warhead effects to

be optimized for the target being attacked. Because of the heavier warhead, this missile

has a slightly decreased maximum range

AGM-65G combines the guidance features of both the 'D' and 'F' with the latter's

warhead. They cost about $121,000 each in FY90. An Air Force missile, it is olive drab in

color. It also differs from the AGM-65F in that its guidance and fuzing options must be

selected prior to flight. It differs from the AGM-65D in that it is better capable of

being locked onto larger targets. During Desert Storm, A-10s fired 203 AGM-65Gs.

A/A37A series captive Maverick trainers are commonly called TGM-65s. They are

ballasted to weigh as much as the live missiles, are usually fitted with a video recorder

to aid in training, and can most easily be identified by their lack of tail fins. The

A/A37A-T1 is used to simulate the AGM-65A and B, the A/A37A-T8 and -T10 simulate the

AGM-65D, while captive AGM-65Fs are called CATM-65Fs. (Unlike the live missiles, IIR

training missiles have yellowish seeker domes.) The A/A37A-T9 simulates the AGM-65E.

A turbine-engined variant, called ' Longhorn ', has been proposed. It would be

equipped with either IIR or millimeter wave guidance sections and have triple the range of

existing versions.

Maverick launchers include the three-rail LAU-88 (for A, B and D versions), and

single-rail LAU-117 that can be used with any version. In addition to the USN and USMC,

USAF Mavericks can be employed by the A-10A, F-111F, F-4G, F-15E, and F-16. It has been

exported to Greece, Iran, Israel, Korea and Turkey (F-4E); Saudi Arabia (F-5E); Sweden

(AJ37 as the Rb 75); and Switzerland (Hunter).

AGM-65 Maverick Variants

Version Guidance Weight Warhead Remarks

AGM-65A EO 462 lb

AGM-65B EO (Scene Mag) 462 lb 125 lb

AGM-65C SAL 465 lb not produced

AGM-65D IIR 485 lb USAF only


AGM-65F WGU-13/B IIR (anti-ship) 677 lb 300 lb USN only

AGM-65G IIR 642 lb 675 lb USAF only


The Rockwell AGM-130 stand-off weapon system (SWS) is a GBU-15 equipped with a

rocket motor to increase its stand-off range from 15 nm (28 km) to over 40 nm (74 km). One

important upgrade from the GBU-15 is the incorporation of a charge coupled device (CCD)

that will extend its usability for two additional hours per day. It also improves the

missile's reliability, EO sensor clarity and sensitivity while reducing cost. Although

tested with the F-4E and fit checked on the F-16 and Tornado, it is only operational with

the F-111F and F-15E. Operational testing began in July 1994 at Cannon AFB, NM with

F-111Fs of the 524th FS. After the completion of production verification flight testing,

approval for full-rate production was approved late 1994. Initial testing with the B-52H

is expected to begin in 1995, with plans to also qualify it with the B-1B and B-2A.

Launched from a prebriefed location, the AGM-130 flies a glide, rocket-powered,

glide profile while receiving man-in-the-loop guidance inputs via datalink. The rocket

motor separates after burn out, and a radar altimeter allows terrain clearance to be

selected in 200-ft (60-m) increments. Once the target is sighted, the missile can either

be manually guided or locked on for automatic terminal guidance.

Further proposed upgrades included the incorporation of an INS/GPS navigation

package to increase the weapon's operational utility by delaying man-in-the loop guidance

to the final 15-20 seconds of weapon's flight. This would reduce the amount of datalink

transmissions, increase launching position and weather flexibility, and allow the WSO to

be more involved in target area egress (rather than being totally involved in weapon

guidance from launch to impact).

Procurement of the $400,000 missile was originally intended to reach 4,048, but was

reduced to only 2,300 in 1993 because of a combination of budget pressures and the

anticipated procurement of newer weapons, such as JSOW. By mid-1993 the first three

production lots were under contract; with Lots 4 and 5 planned to be equipped with CCD

seekers and improved, anti-jam datalinks, while Lot 6 would have improved IIR seekers. The

initial contract award for weapons using the BLU-109 was made in August 1992. A further

102 were authorized in the FY95 budget.

A turbojet-powered version of the AGM-130 has been proposed for the British

Conventionally Armed Stand-Off Missile (CASOM) requirement. This version was initially

unveiled in 1992 and would use the same engine (and have nearly the same 180-nm/332-km

range) as the canceled AGM-137, which it could replace. Another proposal to increase the

AGM-130's range is to revive the planar-wing concept originated with the GBU-15 in the

1970s to increase its range to about 100-nm (184 km). However, the new wing is being

developed by Brunswick, which also makes the ADM-141 TALD.

AGM-130 Components

Version Seeker Warhead Fin Group Weight Remarks

AGM-130A DSU-27 Mk 84 MXU-787 2,980 lb EO

" WGU-10 " " 3,026 lb IIR

AGM-130B DSU-27 SUU-54 " canceled, 1987

AGM-130C DSU-27 BLU-109 " 2,917 lb

AGM-84 Harpoon

The McDonnell Douglas Harpoon anti-ship missile entered production for the US Navy

in 1975. It can be launched from ships (RGM-84) and submarines (UGM-84), as well as

aircraft (AGM-84). The ship-launched versions have 30.9-in (78-cm), 367-lb rocket boosters

that create 12,000 lb (53.4 kN) of thrust for 2.9 seconds before burning out and

separating from the missile. The AGM-84A through D are externally identical. All versions

of this subsonic missile are powered by a 600-lb (2.7-kN) thrust turbojet that is fed by a

NACA inlet located on the bottom of the missile between its 36-in (91-cm) span wings. The

inlet cover is jettisoned after the missile separates from the aircraft and just prior to

starting the turbojet. The Harpoon warhead weighs about 500 lb, with two hits required to

disable a destroyer, or five for a 'Kiev'-class helicopter carrier.

Introduced in 1976, the 1,150-lb initial production (IP) AGM-84A Harpoons are 152 in

(386 cm) long. It uses a radar altimeter to fly at sea-skimming heights and has an

inertial guidance section programmed prior to launch to direct it to the target area,

where a frequency-agile radar seeker controls terminal guidance. As it attacks its target,

the missile performs a pop-up maneuver to enhance warhead penetration. The warhead has a

delay fuze, allowing it to penetrate into the target before exploding. The IPs were

followed in 1978 by Block 1 missiles, which feature improved ECCM.

The Block 1A AGM-84B 'Sub-Harpoon' is used by the British Royal Navy. It

incorporates an indigenous guidance program that decreases cruise altitude and dispenses

with the terminal pop-up maneuver. The Block 1B AGM-84C, first delivered in June 1982,

incorporates the British features into US missiles.

Deliveries of the 1,170-lb Block 1C AGM-84D began in 1984. Its range has been

increased over previous versions from 57 to 75 nm (106 to 139 km). It also features a

refined pop-up maneuver, the ability to navigate to several turn points en route to the

target area, a selectable search priority, and several optional terminal attack maneuvers.

The warhead is also fitted with crush sensors to increase warhead survivability as it

penetrates the target.

The development contract for the 1,400-lb Block 1D AGM-84F was awarded in September

1989. Its major guidance improvement was the ability to execute a cloverleaf reattack

pattern to search for a target if it was not detected during the initial attack. It also

featured a 22.3-in (57-cm) fuselage extension behind the wing but in front of the inlet,

containing additional fuel for increased range. However, this Block 1D option was only

exercised for the sea-launched RGM-84 version, with production approval being given during

1992 for upgrades to existing missiles. The AGM-84F was tested and, although production

did not materialize, the Block 1D guidance improvements are being made to AGM-84D

airframes as the Block 1CR, resulting in the AGM-84G designation.

As of July 1992, more than 6,500 Harpoons had been produced, used by the USN, USAF,

USCG and 20 foreign customers. Beginning in July 1984, 30 B-52Gs were equipped with

AGM-84A/D Harpoons. As these aircraft were earmarked for retirement, Harpoon capability

has been added to 19 B-52Hs. On B-52s, Harpoons are mounted on the HSAB's MAU-9A/A bomb

rack. The missile has also been fit-checked on the Block 50 F-16.

Harpoons are normally referred to by their 'Block', rather than AGM designation.

They are painted either FSN 17858 gloss white or FSN 36440 flat gray. The 'White'

missile's diameter is 13.5 in (34.29 cm), while the 'Gray' missiles have a 13.59-in

(34.52-cm) diameter (with a weight increase of 50 lb). Some missiles were fueled at the

factory with JP 5 fuel while others received JP 10 (which increases their weight by about

20 lb). All color bands are 2-in (5-cm) wide. The sustainer motor section's flat brown

band is either FSN 30117 or 30140, while the warhead's yellow band is either FSN 13538

gloss or 33538 flat.

The ATM-84A/C/D/G- 1 exercise air launch missiles replace the warhead with a

telemetry section marked with a FSN 35109 flat blue band. The ATM-84A/C/D/G- 1A inert

warhead air launch missiles have a FSN 35109 flat blue warhead band. The ATM-84A- 1B inert

training missiles are not flight worthy and used as only as ground crew trainers. The

similar captive carry ATM-84A- 1C ballistic air test vehicle is also completely inert and

has a FSN 35109 flat blue band around the guidance section.

AGM-137 Tri-Service Stand-off Attack Missile (TSSAM)

The Northrop AGM-137 TSSAM was a stealthy missile developed by the USAF for itself,

as well as the Army and Navy. The Army's ground-launched version was to be designated

MGM-137. The 14-ft (4-m) long missile had an 8.3-ft (2.5-m) wing span and a range of

slightly more than 180 nm (332 km). Originally, four versions were to be developed,

employing the BLU-97 CEM, brilliant anti-tank (BAT) sub-munitions, and two types of

terminally guided unitary warheads. By 1994, only two versions remained: a 1,000-lb class

unitary warhead version which was to go into production, and a sub-munition version that

would be developed but not produced to keep program costs down.

The original TSSAM mission was to attack well protected Warsaw Pact and Soviet

targets during the first few days of a conflict. Its range would allow hardened air

defense sites, command and control complexes and communication centers to be struck with

minimum warning while allowing the launching aircraft to remain well beyond enemy air

defenses. Its wide airfoil body was designed to impart extreme maneuverability to evade

air defense concentrations, avoid other obstacles, and perform high- and low-level pop-up

attacks, while its all-aspect stealth design would make it difficult to locate and attack.

The original program plan was to procure 9,050 missiles over five years at a unit

cost of $1.06 million ($9.6 billion for the program). By late 1994, the total buy had

shrunk to 4,156 (3,631 USAF and 525 USN) at a unit cost of $3.2 million ($13.3 billion for

the program).

The Air Force planned to employ AGM-137 with the B-52H (12 external), B-1B (eight

internal), B-2A (eight internal), F-16 (two external), and F-22, while the Navy originally

hoped to use it with the A-6E and F/A-18 (two external). However, by the FY94 budget

cycle, Navy participation was reduced to $75.4 million, and the Army withdrew from the

program entirely.

Initial test launches were performed by the B-52 and A-6E. With the program about

halfway through EMD, results of two 1994 test launches (5 August from an F/A-18C and 13

August by an F-16C) were quickly made public by the USAF to help preserve the troubled

TSSAM development effort during Congressional budget deliberations. Film of the tests

showed the missiles striking targets less than 9-ft (2.7-m) wide after flying to maximum

range. The schedule by that time called for a long-lead production decision in January

1996, completion of flight test in 1997, initial USAF delivery in FY99, and first USN

delivery in FY02.

The TSSAM program was canceled "for the convenience of the government," on 10

February 1995. The Air Force will embark on what is commonly called 'Son of TSSAM', that

will be stealthy from only the front aspect in hopes of reducing unit costs to about

$750,000. To fill the stand-off void left by the AGM-137's cancellation, the Air Force is

exploring options to procure an additional AGM-86C, AGM-130, or AGM-142. The Navy plans to

acquire additional AGM-84E and SLAM(ER) missiles.

AGM-142 Popeye

Popeye is a 3,300-lb conventional stand-off missile armed with either 750-lb

high-explosive/fragmentation or 800-lb hard structure munition (HSM) warhead (using the

FMU-124 C/B fuze). It was developed by Israel's Rafael Armament Development Authority in

the early 1980s and procured by the US Air Force under the ' Have Nap ' program.

Co-produced in the US by Martin Marietta, the 190-in (483-cm) long weapon features

inertial guidance coupled with EO and IIR terminal homing. Popeye differs from the USAF's

GBU-15 and AGM-130 in two major respects: its inertial platform allows greater flexibility

in guidance and navigation and its sustainer rocket motor allows it to be powered all the

way to target impact. These advantages are offset by its larger size, higher cost

($726,000 for each of the 86 missiles bought), and much smaller warhead.

The 63-nm (116-km) plus range Popeye became operational with conventionally

dedicated B-52Gs in the early 1990s and was also evaluated with the F-111F and F-15E. It

was not used during the Gulf War, reportedly because of concerns about the effects using

an Israeli-developed weapon would have had on the coalition. It is also operational with

Israeli air force F-4Es.

Testing of the 2,500-lb AGM-142D, dubbed Have Lite or Popeye 2, began in the fall of

1994. Improvements to the 168-in (427-cm) long missile include use of a IIR seeker,

penetration warhead, a new inertial measurement unit (IMU), laminated wings and fins, and

a lighter rocket motor casing. The $650,000 missile is designed for use by Israeli F-16s

and other tactical aircraft. It is also small enough to be carried internally by the B-1B

and B-2A. Thirty of these missiles were bought for B-52Hs using FY93 funds. An additional

$31 million was provided in 1994 to fund 36 more missiles. Total inventory of Have Nap is

expected to reach 130. Testing of the AGM-142D is expected to begin as early as 1996, with

production to follow in 1997. Consideration is being given to a turbojet-powered version

with a range in excess of 200 nm (370 km).


Formerly known as the advanced interdiction weapon system (AIWS), the Texas

Instruments AGM-154 joint stand-off weapon (JSOW) was a $400-million Navy-led research and

development program to develop a gliding PGM with a stand-off range of about 40 nm (74

km). Program costs through the first 21,600 JSOWs will be $6 billion. Flight testing began

on 19 November 1993 at Patuxent River (on F/A-18C 163985, s/n 100), with the initial

separation/jettison test on 8 March 1994 (on NF/A-18A 161925, s/n 106). The first guided

launch occurred on 13 December 1994 (from F/A-18C 163476 s/n 101) at China Lake.

AGM-154A will be equipped with 145 BLU-97 CEM cluster munitions (see SUU-64). This

1,000-lb class weapon will use GPS-aided inertial guidance to navigate to the target area

with a terminal accuracy of less than 33 ft (10 m). About 8,800 of this version will be

procured at a cost of $100,000 each. The Navy plans to replace its Rockeye II and CBU-59

APAM cluster bombs with the AGM-154A. Low-rate production is planned for 1996, leading to

an initial operational capability (IOC) in 1999.

The primary Navy JSOW delivery vehicle will be the F/A-18C/D (and later the new

F/A-18E/F). The integration process for the AV-8B will begin in 1998. The Harrier II has

an additional requirement to take off with two weapons and land vertically with just one.

(Initial plans called for Navy versions to be delivered from the A-6E, AV-8B, F/A-18,

F-14, and any future attack capable aircraft. However, the early retirement of the A-6E

led to it being dropped from the program.)

The primary Air Force JSOW delivery vehicle will be the F-16C, with two weapons

being loaded to the center wing pylons, with consideration being given to doubling this by

use of the F/A-18's BRU-33A/A CVER, thus still allowing two wing fuel tanks to be carried.

Other likely candidates include the F-15E and B-1B. The F-15E fit check evaluated six

weapons mounted to the wing pylons and front and rear-bottom CFT stations (although the

rear stations may not have be usable because of acoustic loads). The B-1B can carry four

per weapon bay on CSRLs. Fit checks were also conducted with the B-52H and F-111F.

JSOW is also designed to be compatible with all NATO tactical combat aircraft. The

Tornado was fit checked with the weapon in late 1993. There is the possibility that

foreign participation in the program will be allowed before the full-scale production

decision is made in 1998.

AGM-154B will deliver the BLU-108 SFW (see SUU-64) for anti-armor applications. The

Air Force plans to acquire 5,000, beginning in 2000. Use of JSOW as a SEAD weapon to

counter SA-4 and SA-11 SAMs is also considered likely.

AGM-154C is scheduled to become operational with the Navy in 2001. It will be

fitted with a 500-lb BLU-111 GP bomb warhead and a IIR terminal guidance seeker developed

by Phase III of the JDAM program. The addition of the seeker will provide this $400,000

weapon with a 10-ft (3-m) accuracy, allowing it to attack point targets such as bridges.

About 7,800 are expected to be acquired, with the Navy using them to replace the AGM-62

Walleye, AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-123 Skipper II, and 'some LGBs'. The Air Force originally

did not plan to buy any of this version, but is reconsidering this position in the wake of

the AGM-137 TSSAM's cancellation.

One possible follow-on effort would equip JSOW with a more powerful penetration

warhead. Other payloads being considered include the Gator and BAT sub-munitions, and the

'Kit 2' carbon fiber warhead (like those used by BGM-109s during the 1991 Gulf War). In

addition, proposals to use it to deliver Gen-X disposable radar jammers, and even as a

resupply container carrying food and ammunition for long range patrols are being



A USAF program to develop a Silent Hard Kill (SHarK) capability was announced in

mid-1993. Unlike previous suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) programs, SHarK was

tasked with preemptively striking silent, non-emitting surface-to-air and theater

ballistic missile sites, and doing enough damage to take them out of the battle for

several days.

Expected to eventually become a joint program with the USN, SHarK went unfunded in

FY93, but was redirected to study the overall process of destroying non-emitting air

defense radars. Renamed Preemptive Destruction, it was managed by the Conventional

Munition Systems SPO at Eglin AFB, FL. As a study program, its research team identified

and evaluated 124 SEAD tasks through mid-1995, to find the most cost-effective way to

accomplish the SHarK task.

The preemptive destruction mission differed from reactive suppression by being less

time sensitive. By September 1994, it was thought that the mission would be broken into

two parts, a non-lethal decoy and a lethal bomb or missile. First, the threat would be

generally located, probably by a stand-off system, such as JSTARS. Then its position would

be refined by using a short-range, air-launched decoy, launched from a fighter aircraft.

The miniature decoy would perform a ferret function, using an RF package to emit

aircraft-like radar signals. (In a joint development effort, ARPA contracted Sundstrand to

develop a very small engine for the decoy. By late FY96 or early FY97, the engine program

would be transferred to the USAF for production of 24 complete systems in FY98.) The decoy

would also identify and prioritize the threat for later attack by the lethal system. The

study narrowed the list of potential non-lethal sensor technologies to millimeter-wave

radar (MMWR), imaging infra-red (IIR), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), global positioning

system (GPS), and laser radar (LADAR).

Because of the inherent mobility of modern SAM systems, lethal attack would need to

be within a few minutes of threat identification and location. (A Russian-exported SA-8

could move 24 miles/39 km in two hours.) It was expected that the actual kill mechanism

would be based on an existing delivery system such as TMD, AMRAAM, HARM, JDAM, JSOW,

AGM-65, or AGM-130. The warhead was anticipated to be some sort of area munition, such as

an SFW modified to expel up to 54 fragments rather than a single, focused warhead. This

would be necessary to counter modern systems, such as the SA-11, which could have up to

0.5 mile (0.8 km) between various system elements, using datalink instead of hard wired

communication links.

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Air Intercept Missiles


AIM-7 Sparrow, XJ 521 Sky Flash and Aspide

The original Navy air-to-air missile program began near the end of World War II when

BuAer advanced the concept of a beam-riding 5-in (13-cm) high-velocity aircraft rocket

(HVAR). With this type of guidance system the launching aircraft illuminated the target

with radar and the missile simply attempted to stay in the center of the radar beam. In

May 1946, under Project Hot Shot, Sperry Gyroscope Co. of Bristol, TN, was asked to submit

a proposal for a missile based on the HVAR with a range between 1,000 and 6,000 ft (305

and 1830 m) and fast enough to overtake a Mach 1.0 target.

The following March, Sperry reported that the HVAR's 5-in (13-cm) diameter was too

small to accommodate the design requirements. An 8-in (20-cm) diameter missile body was

recommended, a standard which was maintained for the entire Sparrow family. Douglas

Aircraft Co. was subcontracted to produce the airframe while Sperry concentrated on

guidance. The development contract was signed in May 1947, with project being named

Sparrow in July. Unpowered separation testing began at Pt Mugu in January 1948.

In January 1951 the Navy placed an advance order for 1,000 Sparrow I s, officially

designated air-to-air missile-Navy (AAM-N) -2. In September 1952 Sparrow became the first

project of the newly established VX-4 of the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Pt Mugu CA.

In 1955, nearly 10 years after development began, VA-83, equipped with the F7U-3M

Cutlass, became the first squadron to receive the new missile. Fleet service began in 1956

with deliveries to F3D-1M Skynight, F3H-2M Demon, and other F7U-3M squadrons. However, the

140-in (355-cm) long Sparrow I's beam-riding design lacked a true all-weather capability

because its APG-51 guidance radar required visual identification of the target.

Eventually, the entire concept was abandoned, with the last of 2,000 of the 310-lb Sparrow

Is being delivered in April 1957. In 1962, after it was out of service, Sparrow I was

redesignated AIM-7A.

The AAM-N-3 Sparrow II was another Douglas project, but featured a completely

different guidance system with an active radar seeker. This increased the missile's length

to 144 in (365 cm), which set the standard for all subsequent Sparrows. It was designed

originally for the F5D Skylancer, but when that program was canceled in 1956 it was taken

over by the Canadian government for their CF-105 Arrow, but that, too, was canceled in

1959. The 420-lb missile was belatedly redesignated AIM-7B in 1962.

The genesis of ultimate Raytheon 500-lb class AIM-7 Sparrow began in 1951 with their

380-lb AAM-N-6 Sparrow III. In reality, this was a completely new missile that featured

SARH guidance behind a 'tangent ogive' radome, a 65-lb continuous-rod warhead, and a solid

fuel rocket motor. The first guided launch occurred in February 1953, and it replaced the

Sparrow I in production in 1956. (Although successfully tested in 1957, an infra-red

guided version was canceled.) Reaching the fleet in August 1958, about 2,000 were produced

to arm the F3H-2M Demon. The USAF had designated the Sparrow III as the AIM-101 prior to

1962, when the joint designation system redesignated it the AIM-7C.

The 440-lb AAM-N-6A Sparrow IIIA replaced the AAM-N-6 in production during 1959. It

was the first Sparrow to supplement earlier rail launchers with an ejector launch

capability. Its performance was increased by a limited proximity fuzing capability,

enabling head-on intercepts, and a storable liquid fuel rocket motor which permitted

supersonic launches and increased range. It was redesignated the AIM-7D in 1962, with

7,500 being produced to arm the F4H-1 and F-110A Phantom II.

The AIM-7E Sparrow IIIB entered production in 1963 and incorporated a new 7,600-lb

thrust (33.81-kN), 2.9-second burn Mk 38 solid fuel rocket motor which resulted in a 75

per cent range increase. The later Mk 52 motor was similar, but weighed 3 lb more, at 157

lb. Its DPN-72 GCS was composed of the CW-646 radome, OA-4137 target seeker, OA-4136

flight control group (/B through D/B versions), as well as the tunnel cable and waveguide.

Although it had a launch envelope of Mach 0.7 to 2.2, from sea level to 90,000 ft (27,430

m) at targets up to 13 miles (21 km) away, its utility in Vietnam was severely hampered by

a minimum range of 1 mile (1.6 km). There, it to be virtually useless against maneuvering,

fighter-sized targets, especially at low level.

The Italian Aspide missile used the AIM-7E as a jumping-off point. Work began in

1969 to incorporate an Italian SAR seeker to the Sparrow airframe. It is believed to have

finally replaced the AIM-7E on Italian F-104Ss in the late 1980s.

The AIM-7E-2 was an AIM-7E with the ALMC No. 27 'dogfight' modification, to give the

missile a shorter minimum range (1,500 ft/457 m), as well as maneuverability and fuzing

improvements. It was introduced in 1969 to correct AIM-7E performance shortcomings and was

also exported to Britain for use with the F-4K/M. This version of the Sparrow was rushed

to Southeast Asia where it replaced the AIM-7E within months.

Combat AIM-7Es were overall FSN 17925 gloss white, except for the radomes, which

were left unpainted (a very light gray color). Color bands included a '1 to 3-in' wide FSN

23538 yellow band at the front of the warhead, and a '2 to 3-in' wide FSN 30117 brown band

on the rocket motor beginning about three in behind the aft launch hook. The AIM-7E-2 (and

subsequent versions of the AIM-7E family) were identifiable by the 1-in wide FSN 17038

black 'L' markings on their wings.

All AIM-7E serial numbers were prefixed by 'R-' and suffixed by 'b'. This

nomenclature was applied to both the target seeker and flight control sections. As a

missile was upgraded, its suffix would reflect the version it had been upgraded to (e.g.

R-8956-b would become R-8956-b-2 if it was upgraded by ALMC No. 27 to the AIM-7E-2

standard). Also, there were no leading zeros on the numbers applied to the missiles.

Finally, the table only reflects original production, not upgrades. All blocks beginning

with the letter 'b' denoted AIM-7E-2 production. In the following table, the first suffix

and last prefix in each sequence have been omitted. Of the 20,650 missiles built, 8653

(almost 42 per cent) were originally built as AIM-7E-2s. In FY65, the USAF allotted

serials 65-995 to 2194 for AIM-7E production, but the order was canceled.

The AIM-7E-3 was an E-2 modified by AWC-78 (dated 27 August 1976), the 'reliability

and fuze improvement modification'.

The AIM-7E-4 was an E-3 modified by AWC-93, also called the 'spillover

modification', to allow it to be used with early F-14A Tomcats. Its DPN-85 GCS was

composed of the CW-646 radome, OA-8888(V)2 target seeker, OA-8886(V)1 flight control

group, as well as the tunnel cable and waveguide.

The RIM-7E-5 Sea Sparrow was a short-range self-defense weapon for ships that was

used with the basic point defense surface missile system (BPDSMS). Unlike later RIM-7s, it

had fixed wings. AIM-7E-2s were modified to RIM-7E-5 standard by AWC-78, Amendment 3

(dated 30 April 1979). AIM-7E-3s were modified by AWC-78, Amendment 4 (beginning 30 April,

further modified on 29 August 1979).

AIM-7E Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-4137 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-4136 37.39 155.7 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 2063-5147 37.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) MX-4421 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7E 143.97 436.6

AIM-7E-2 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-4137A 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-4136A or C 37.39 150.8 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 380031 34.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) MX-4421 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7E-2 143.97 428.7

AIM-7E/E-2 Production

Block Serial Numbers Quantity Block Serial Numbers Quantity

af R-0001 to 0375-b 375 ax R-09521 to 10020-b 500

ag R-0376 to 0750-b 375 ay R-10021 to 10575-b 555

ah R-0751 to 1125-b 375 az R-10576 to 11259-b 684

ai R-1126 to 1500-b 375 ba R-11260 to 11733-b-2 474

aj R-1501 to 2250-b 750 ga R-11734 to 12135-b 402

ak R-2251 to 3000-b 750 gb R-12136 to 12219-b 84

al R-3001 to 3750-b 750 bb R-12220 to 12939-b-2 720

am R-3751 to 4350-b 600 bc R-12940 to 13352-b-2 413

an R-4351 to 5100-b 750 gc R-13353 to 13436-b 84

ao R-5101 to 5850-b 750 bd R-13437 to 13686-b-2 250

ap R-5851 to 6600-b 750 be R-13687 to 14616-b-2 930

aq R-6601 to 7350-b 750 bf R-14617 to 15546-b-2 930

ar R-7351 to 7550-b 200 bg R-15547 to 16476-b-2 930

as R-7551 to 7750-b 200 bh R-16477 to 17415-b-2 939

at R-7751 to 8355-b 605 gd R-17416 to 17455-b 40

au R-8356 to 8555-b 200 bi R-17456 to 18596-b-2 1141

av R-8556 to 8955-b 400 ge R-18597 to 18724-b 128

aw R-8956 to 9520-b 565 bj R-18725 to 20650-b-2 1926

AIM-7E-3 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-8887(V)1 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-8886(V)1 37.39 150.8 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 595033 34.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) MX-4421 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7E-3 143.97 428.7

AIM-7E-4 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-8888(V)2 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-8886(V)1 37.39 150.8 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 595033 34.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) MX-4421 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7E-4 143.97 428.7

RIM-7E-5 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-8887(V)2 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-8886(V)2 37.39 150.8 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 2623601 34.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) 2623602 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round RIM-7E-5 143.97 428.7

AIM-7E-6 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-8888(V)2 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-8886(V)1 37.39 158.8 weight for entire GCS

Wings (4) 595033 34.4 16.00-in span, 18.62-in chord

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 1 12.99 70.6 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) MX-4421 12.0 12.0-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7E-6 143.97 437.9

The final 'E' was the AIM-7E-6, which incorporated the Mk 38 Mod 1 warhead as AWB

110, Rev. A. Over a period of 10 years 25,000 AIM-7Es, of various versions were produced

at a unit cost of about $74,000, but none remain operational with the USAF or USN. Up to

this point, the configuration of AIM-7s had been guidance and control section, wing,

warhead, and rocket motor.

Work on the British XJ 521 Sky Flash began in 1972. It was essentially an AIM-7E-2

with an indigenous monopulse seeker and a new fuze, giving it performance similar to the

AIM-7M's seeker against low-flying targets, but with the lower aerodynamic performance of

the older missile. Sky Flash entered service with the RAF in 1979 on the F-4K/M and was

also exported to Sweden where it entered service with JA 37 Viggens in 1981 as the Rb 71.

Also in 1981, production of the Tornado essential modification package (TEMP) Sky Flash

began, with these missiles becoming basic equipment for the Tornado F.Mk 2/3. Continued

improvement led to the 1985 introduction of the Super TEMP Sky Flash for both British and

Saudi Tornado F.Mk 3s. These missiles featured modest aerodynamic changes for drag

reduction, an improved seeker, thinner wings, and a boost/sustain rocket motor. Beginning

in 1988, earlier versions of Sky Flash were brought up to Super TEMP standards.

Development of a Thomson-CSF active seeker began in 1989, with a formal Active Sky Flash

proposal being made to the RAF in January 1992. The original Swedish designation of this

missile was Rb 71A when it was initially proposed, but changed to Rb 73 for a second

proposal (for the JAS 39 Gripen).

Development the AIM-7F began in 1966, although it did not enter service until 1975.

This virtually new missile used a CW-1178B/D 'von Karman' radome to cover the nose of the

new OA-8877 target seeker section, which used either pulse-Doppler (PD) or continuous wave

(CW) guidance and was designed to make the missile more capable against maneuvering,

low-altitude targets. Avionics improvements enabled the primary WAU-10 continuous rod, or

newer WAU-17 high explosive, blast-fragmentation warheads to be located in front of the

OA-8878 flight control group, allowing the Mk 58 rocket motor to be enlarged

(5,750-lb/25.6-kN 4.5-second boost, followed by 1,018-lb/4.5-kN 11-second sustainer), thus

improving range. Four BSU-56 wings were attached to the flight control group, while BSU-57

fins were attached to the rocket motor. The forward AIM-7F waveguide was 59.8 in (152 cm)

long, while the aft was 61.5 in (156 cm) long. The missile had an 8.0-in (20-cm) diameter

from the back of the radome to 8 in (20 cm) from the tail, when it tapered to a 6.6-in

(17-cm) diameter. Production began in 1972 and ended in 1980, with the missiles costing

about $276,000 each. All missiles eventually went through a product optimization program

(POP) retrofit, which was probably indicated by the AIM-7F-11 designation. AIM-7Fs were

withdrawn from service by 1994 after being used to arm the F-4E/G/S, as well as the F-14,

F-15, F-16ADF, and FA-18. The CATM-7F-3, also known as the Goldenbird airborne inert

missile simulator (AIMS), was the captive trainer Sparrow for the AIM-7F, M, and P. The

RIM-7F Sea Sparrow II was a version of the AIM-7F.

The AIM-7G was intended to arm the F-111D. However, it was canceled.

The RIM-7H-2 Sea Sparrow was developed from the AIM-7E-2 as a short-range

self-defense weapon for ships. This was the first Sparrow fitted with folding wings and

clipped fins (23.5-in/57-cm span). Its DPN-84A GCS was composed of the CW-646 radome,

OA-4137B target seeker, OA-4136D flight control group, as well as the tunnel cable and

waveguide. It could be launched six seconds after commitment. After AWC-97 (the 'rapid

runup' modification), if fitted with the proper wings and fins, it could be used as an

air-to-air missile (although the reverse was not true of the AIM-7E-2).

The RIM-7H-5 was a RIM-7H-2 modified by AWC 78, Amendment 4-1 (dated 30 April 1979).

It was developed at the same time as the AIM-7E-4 for use with the NATO Sea Sparrow

surface missile system (NSSMS). Its DPN-84B GCS was composed of the CW-646 radome,

OA-8888(V)1 target seeker, OA-8886(V)1 flight control group, as well as the tunnel cable

and waveguide. In addition to AWC-97, it incorporated parts of AWC-78.

AIM-7F Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-1178B/D 16.78 7.5 earlier versions 19.33-in long

Target Seeker OA-8877 26.84 57.51 PD/CW

Warhead WAU-10 15.76 85.6 expanding rod

Flight Control OA-8878 22.64 76.18

Wings (4) BSU-56A/B 38.8 16.00-in span, 17.66-in chord

Rocket Motor Mk 58 59.46 211.3 Mods 2, 3, and 5

Fins (4) BSU-57 24.6 11.5-in span, 18.5-in chord

Miscellaneous 6.62 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7F-11 141.48 508.11

RIM-7H-2 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-4137B 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-4136D 37.39 150.8 weight for entire GCS

Rt. Wings (2) BSU-38 19.45 15.25-in span, 18.62-in chord

Left Wings (2) BSU-39 19.45 (23.3-in folded span)

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) BSU-25 11.4 8.45-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round RIM-7H-2 143.97 432.6

RIM-7H-5 Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-646 19.24

Target Seeker OA-8888(V)1 23.63 CW

Flight Control OA-8886(V)1 37.39 158.8 weight for entire GCS

Rt. Wings (2) BSU-38 19.45 15.25-in span, 18.62-in chord

Left Wings (2) BSU-39 19.45 (23.3-in folded span)

Warhead Mk 38 Mod 0 12.99 69.4 expanding rod

Rocket Motor Mk 38 or Mk 52 50.72 157.0 various Mods

Fins (4) BSU-25 11.4 8.45-in span, 18.50-in chord

Miscellaneous 5.1 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round RIM-7H-5 143.97 440.6

AIM-7M Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-1178B/D 16.78 7.5

Guidance WGU-6 (early) 26.84 62.3 PD/CW

Warhead WAU-17 15.76 85.1 blast-fragmentation

Control WCU-5 22.64 72.0

Wings (4) BSU-56C/B 39.8 16.00-in span, 17.66-in chord

Rocket Motor Mk 58 59.46 211.3 Mods 2, 3, and 5

Fins (4) BSU-57 24.6 11.5-in span, 18.5-in chord

Miscellaneous 6.62 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7M 141.48 509.22

The 509-lb AIM-7M (F-1), featured an inverse monopulse seeker, active radar fuze,

WAU-17 focused blast fragmentation warhead and numerous other evolutionary improvements to

increase reliability and decrease cost (to $225,000 each). First produced by General

Dynamics-Camden (Arkansas), it entered service in 1983, with production ending in 1992.

The WGU-5 GCS (A/B through E/B versions) was composed of the CW-1178B/D radome, WGU-6

guidance (A, B, or C/B versions), WCU-5 control sections (/B through D/B versions), as

well as the tunnel cable and waveguide. To eliminate a wing-buzz problem discovered with

the BSU-56A/B wings used by the AIM-7F, the AIM-7M's BSU-56C/B wings each had 0.25-lb

weights affixed to their tips. The 510-lb AIM-7M (H-Build) missile featured GCS

modifications including inertial observer guidance (IOG), improved ECCM, and a more

sophisticated interface between the missile and its launch aircraft. It could be

distinguished from other AIM-7Ms by the 'H' suffix to its serial number. Aircraft equipped

with AIM-7Ms included the F-14, F-15, and F/A-18.

The 502-lb RIM-7M was developed at the same time as the AIM-7M to replace the

RIM-7F. It differed from the air-launched version by having 43.9-lb, BSU-64 folding wings,

12.4-lb, BSU-63 clipped fins (with 7.99-in/20-cm spans), and a 212.3-lb, Mk 58 Mod 4

remotely armed rocket motor. These missiles were used with the self-defense surface

missile system (SDSMS), comprised of the Mk 57 NSSMS and the Mk 23 target acquisition

system (TAS). They could also be used with the older Mk 41 and Mk 48 NSSMS.

The ATM-7M and RTM-7M were AIM/RIM-7M missiles with the warhead replaced by a

AN/DKT-61 telemetry unit.

The 503-lb AIM-7P and RIM-7P missiles incorporated a new autopilot, computer, and

fuze to improve the Sparrow's capability against cruise missiles. Initial flight testing

ran from October 1989 through March 1991, with FOT&E conducted from July 1993 through

March 1994. Both modifications of AIM/RIM-7M, F1 and H-Build missiles and new missiles

were procured. There were two types of modification kits: Block I, which incorporated new

WGU-6D/B guidance section with the new DSU-34/B fuze (150 in FY91 and 390 in FY92), and

Block II with WGU-6E/B guidance section, the same fuze, and a new rear antenna (474 in

FY94 and 422 in FY95). Eventually all missiles will be brought up to Block II standards.

New missiles were built at a rate of 800 per year in both FY92 and FY93. AIM-7Ps were only

used by the F-14 and F/A-18 (although they also underwent testing on the USAF's F-15). Its

inverse monopulse seeker was compatible with either CW or pulse-Doppler illumination. The

initial new production contract was released in June 1992, with Hughes-Tucson producing

the largest share. Eventually, all surviving USN AIM/RIM-7M missiles were upgraded to

AIM/RIM-7P standards. These missiles were also offered to NATO countries, including in a

vertical launch configuration. The ATM-7P and RTM-7P designations were assigned to

identify AIM/RIM-7P missiles with the warhead replaced by a AN/DKT-61A telemetry unit.

The 514-lb AIM-7R and RIM-7R were only used only by the USN. A modification of Block

II AIM-7Ps by the missile homing improvement program (MHIP), it incorporated a dual-mode

high-speed missile infra-red (HSMIR) IR/SAR seeker. Infra-red guidance was provided by a

nose-mounted seeker, only about half the size of that used by the AIM-9, but with a

comparable performance. The IR terminal guidance was incorporated without compromising the

performance of the existing SAR seeker. After launch, the IR seeker was activated and its

dome cover ejected. It then began a preprogrammed search pattern to lock onto the same

target as the SAR seeker, whereupon the missile could transition to IR guidance, allowing

the illuminating radar to break lock and engage a new target. If the transition to IR

guidance did not occur (e.g. because equipment malfunction or bad weather), the missile

could still be guided to the target using the illuminating radar. Initial flight testing

was scheduled from October 1993 through September 1994, with FOT&E scheduled to begin in

January 1996.

The 507-lb RIM-7R was developed as the same time as the AIM-7R. It was basically the

same as the RIM-7P, but with the new seeker fitted.

The ATM-7R and RTM-7R designations were assigned to identify AIM/RIM-7P missiles

with the warhead replaced by a AN/DKT-76 telemetry unit.

The first public disclosure of the operational use of a passively-guided version of

the Sparrow (AIM-7R?) was made during the spring of 1994. One of these missiles, said to

be fitted with either an infra-red or charge coupled device (CCD) TV seeker, reportedly

shot down the first Iraqi aircraft of the 1991 Gulf War.

The evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) was a virtually new missile, with a new

airframe, bigger motor, and tail control. The ultimate program goal was a missile with a

three-fold improvement in aerodynamic performance at twice the range of the RIM-7P.

Initial designations for ESSM are RIM-7PTC and RIM-7RTC (the TC standing for 'tail

control'). It was also proposed as a replacement for the canceled AAAM Phoenix-replacement


Launchers included the AERO 7A (F-4 fuselage), LAU-17A (F-4 pylon), LAU-92 (F-14),

LAU-106 (F-15), LAU-115 and -116 (F/A-18), and F-16 (16S1500).

AIM-7P Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks

Radome CW-1178B/D 16.78 7.5

Guidance WGU-6 (late) 26.84 62.3

Warhead WAU-17 15.76 85.1 blast-fragmentation

Control WCU-5 22.64 72.0

Wings (4) BSU-56C/B 39.8 16.00-in span, 17.66-in chord

Rocket Motor Mk 58 59.46 211.3 Mods 2, 3, and 5

Fins (4) BSU-57 24.6 11.5-in span, 18.5-in chord

Miscellaneous 6.62 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7P 141.48 509.22

AIM-7R Components

Component Nomenclature Length Weight Remarks


Guidance 48.0 74.5 including radome

Warhead WAU-17 15.76 85.1 blast-fragmentation

Control WCU-5 22.64 72.0

Wings (4) BSU-56C/B 39.8 16.00-in span, 17.66-in chord

Rocket Motor Mk 58 59.46 211.3 Mods 2, 3, and 5

Fins (4) BSU-57 24.6 11.5-in span, 18.5-in chord

Miscellaneous 6.62 waveguides and tunnel cable

All Up Round AIM-7R 145.86 513.92

Development of the 200-lb class Sidewinder missile family began in 1951 at the Naval

Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake, CA. At that time, 10-to-30-man groups were

empowered to design, develop and produce cheap, effective weapons using approximately 10

per cent of the test director's budget. The Sidewinder program benefited from this

management system, being developed as an unofficial, in-house program to produce a cheap,

effective AAM. Preliminary aerodynamic testing was conducted by constructing a small model

of the missile and mounting it on a simple mechanism stuck out the side window of a 1949

Kaiser. The engineers gathered their 'wind tunnel data' while hanging out the window as

the car was driven back and forth over the dry lakebed at 90 mph (145 km/h).

Forty years and nearly 30 versions later, the Sidewinder was by far the most

successful and deadly air-to-air missile in the world, copied by friend and foe alike.

Produced mainly by Ford Aerospace and Raytheon, the AIM-9 has evolved from a missile which

could only be launched at close range from directly behind a non-maneuvering target, to an

all-aspect, 'I wish you were dead', weapon with up to five times the range of the

original. It also served as the basis for the MIM-72 Chaparral and AGM-122 Sidearm.

Beginning as a Navy missile adopted by the Air Force, requirements soon drove the two

services along separate development paths. This persisted throughout the Vietnam war,

until costs forced common development of the AIM-9L and subsequent versions. The AIM-9L

(introduced in the mid-1970s) and AIM-9M (introduced in 1982) are standard armament on all

USN/USAF tactical fighters except F-111s, which use the AIM-9P-3.

Modification of the original AERO 3B launcher rails to accept the AIM-9L/M/R

missiles resulted in the LAU-7 (Navy), LAU-57, LAU-58, LAU-100, LAU-101, and LAU-105 (Air

Force), the difference being that the Navy launchers contained a bottle of gaseous

nitrogen for cooling the missile seeker, while Air Force missiles were internally cooled.

Later launchers for Sidewinders included the 93.5-in (237-cm) long LAU-114 (Air Force)

which had a much more angular appearance than earlier launchers, as well as three AMRAAM

launchers with Sidewinder capability. The AMRAAM launchers could be distinguished from the

LAU-114 by their blunter noses and included the 115.5-in (293-cm) long LAU-127 (F-14/18),

106-in (269-cm) long LAU-128 (F-16 wingtip), and LAU-129 (F-15). The LAU-139 was a LAU-127

modified to accommodate carriage of Swiss AIM-9P-5s.

AIM-9A was also known as XAAM-N-7 Sidewinder 1. About 300 produced for USN.

AIM-9B was the initial production missile. Its original designations were AAM-N-7

Sidewinder 1A (USN) and GAR-8 (USAF). About 71,700 of the 155-lb missiles were built,

beginning in 1951; IOC was 1956 at a unit cost of $3,000. Swedish designation was Rb 24.

The 24.5-in long guidance control section (GCS) had an uncooled, lead-sulphide (PbS) IR

seeker, covered by a glass dome, and had 15-in (38-cm) span fins. 13.5-in (34-cm) long,

10-lb, Mk 8 blast-fragmentation warhead. 3-in (7.6-cm) long Mk 303 (contact) and Mk 304

(influence) fuze section. 75-in (190-cm) long Mk 17 rocket motor (2.3-nm/4.24-km range)

with 22-in (56-cm) span wings.

AIM-9B FGW Mod 2 was a European-built AIM-9B that weighed 167 lb. Its Swedish

designation was Rb 324. Some 9,200 were built. GCS had improved electronics,

carbon-dioxide (CO ) cooled seeker and silicon (Si) dome.2

AIM-9B-2 was an AIM-9B with 75-in (190-cm) long improved-performance SR116 rocket


AIM-9C was a USN-developed SARH variant, similar in appearance to the AIM-9B. The

original designation of this 185-lb missile was Sidewinder 1B. One thousand were built for

the USN. 25.5-in (65-cm) long seeker with 16-in (40-cm) span BSU-14 fins. Eventually

modified for use as AGM-122 seekers. 6.5-in (16.5-cm) long Mk 15 target detection device

(TDD). Positioning of warhead and fuze reversed from AIM-9B. 11.5-in (29-cm) long,

22.4-lb, Mk 48 continuous-rod warhead. 71-in (180-cm) long Mk 36 rocket motor (11-nm/52-km

maximum range) with 25-in (64-cm) span Mk 1 wings.

AIM-9D was an AIM-9C except with an IR seeker. This 194-lb missile's original

designation was Sidewinder 1C. Some 1,000 were built for USN beginning in 1956.

24-in (60-cm) long Mk 18 GCS had a ogive-shaped, anodized nose. PbS seeker, covered

by a magnesium-floride (MgF ) dome. GCS was nitrogen (N ) cooled from a bottle contained22

within the LAU-7 launcher rail.

AIM-9E About 5,000 AIM-9Bs were modified to this 164-lb configuration for the USAF

beginning in 1967. 26.5-in (67-cm) long GCS had ogive nose and a Peltier thermoelectric


AIM-9E-2 was an AIM-9E with SR116 rocket motor.

AIM-9F This designation reserved for possible USAF purchase of FGW Mod 2 variant

known as the Mod 14K.

AIM-9G was an AIM-9D with improved GCS. A total of 2,120 of these 191-lb missiles

was built for the USN. Incorporated the off-boresight, Sidewinder expanded acquisition

mode (SEAM).

AIM-9H was an AIM-9G with solid-state GCS, decreasing the missile's weight to 186

lb. Some 7,720 were built for the USN from 1972. Believed to have been used by Sweden with

designation of Rb 24H.

AIM-9I was not assigned as a designation.

AIM-9J About 13,000 built from 1970, both AIM-9B/E/J modifications and new-builds.

Approximate weight was 172 lb. 30.5-in (77-cm) long GCS with modified servo, electronics

and 130211 double-delta fins. 3-in (7.6-cm) long Mk 303/304 TDD or Mk 303 Mod 4 with

combined functions. 75-in (190-cm) long Mk 17 motor. AIM-9J-1 was a modified AIM-9J with

25.5-in (65-cm) long GCS which incorporated rate bias and solid state electronics. Over

7,000 were produced. 3-in (7.6-cm) long target detecting device unit (DSU)-21/B active

optical target detector (AOTD) which utilized gallium-arsenide (GaAs) lasers.

AIM-9J-2 was an AIM-9J with 75-in (190-cm) long SR116 rocket motor.

AIM-9J-3 was an AIM-9J-1 with SR116 rocket motor.

AIM-9K China Lake developed alternative to AIM-9L. Not produced

AIM-9L Introduced in 1977, with about 16,000 of this 188-lb missile were built for

the USN and USAF ($97,600 each), 3,500 for Europe. Swedish designation was initially Rb

24L, but changed to Rb 74, with initial 1,000 being purchased in 1984 for use with JA 37

Viggens. 25.5-in (65-cm) long AN/DSQ-29 GCS has an indium-antimony (InSb) seeker which

gives it an all aspect capability. BSU-32/B 22-in span 'pointy' fins. USAF versions are

argon (A) cooled from a bottle contained in the missile while USN versions are N2 cooled

from a launcher rail bottle. 6.5-in (16.5-cm) long DSU-15/B AOTD. 11.5-in (29-cm) long

WDU-17 annular blast-fragmentation (ABF) warhead. 71-in (180-cm) long Mk 36 rocket motor

(2,660-lb/11.83-kN thrust) with Mk 1 wings.

AIM-9M Originally AIM-9L product improvement program (PIP). Over 12,000 of these

192-lb missile were built from 1982, with a unit cost quoted as $108,000 in 1994. Modified

with closed cycle cooling, improved infra-red counter countermeasures (IRCCM) and

background discrimination. Reduced-smoke version of Mk 36 rocket motor. Three hundred were

approved for sale to Saudi Arabia in 1992.

AIM-9N About 23,000 AIM-9B/Es modified for foreign military sales (FMS) from 1973.

Swedish designation was Rb 24J. 30.5-in (77-cm) long GCS with same features as AIM-9J-1

GCS. Same TDD options as AIM-9J. 13.5-in (34-cm) long Mk 54 blast-fragmentation warhead.

Mk 17 rocket motor.

AIM-9N-1 was an AIM-9N with DSU-21/B fuze.

AIM-9N-2 was an AIM-9N with SR116 rocket motor.

AIM-9N-3 was an AIM-9N-1 with SR116 rocket motor.

AIM-9O was not assigned as a designation.

AIM-9P was a re designation of the AIM-J-1.

AIM-9P-1 was an AIM-9P with DSU-21/B TDD.

AIM-9P-2 was an AIM-9P with SR116 rocket motor. Introduced in 1976.

AIM-9P-3 was an AIM-9P-1 with SR116 rocket motor. Introduced in 1976.

AIM-9P-4 was an AIM-9J GCS modified to be all-aspect capable, DSU-21/B TDD, Mk 8

warhead and an improved SR116 rocket motor. FMS only; introduced in 1986 ($32,900).

AIM-9P-5 was an AIM-9P-4 with improved IRCCM features, also introduced in 1986,

with about 8,000 P-4/5s having been delivered through FMS programs.

AIM-9JULI was a German program to upgrade AIM-9J/N/Ps to AIM-9L performance


AIM-9Q was not assigned as a designation.

AIM-9R was a Loral-developed AIM-9M with a daytime only EO GCS developed from a

commercial video camera. This seeker would not have required a refrigeration system.

Canceled in favor of AIM-9X in 1992, after costs exceeded $125,000 per missile. However,

development and testing continued for some time after cancellation, with hopes of

producing the missile for the Navy until the AIM-9X can be fielded. Flight test

designations for this design included AIM-9R EM, AIM-9R ET, and AIM-9R PM. These missiles

were also evaluated with the LAU-127 AMRAAM-capable launcher beginning in late 1991. Using

the 'Box Office' airframe described below has been considered.

AIM-9S was a Raytheon-developed AIM-9L modification for FMS. Contains most features

of the AIM-9M, except for IRCCM. These include an improved seeker and the low-smoke motor.

Flight testing began in mid-1990, and 300 were approved for sale to Saudi Arabia in 1992.

AIM-9X was a program to develop a vastly more efficient missile capable of

internal-carriage on the F-22. After a cost and operational effectiveness analysis (COEA)

was completed in late 1993, a request for proposals (RFP) encouraging foreign

participation was released in mid-1994. This led to Hughes and Raytheon being awarded

demonstration and validation (Dem/Eval) contracts to be completed by June 1996.

The CPIF contract awards were for $22.096 million to Hughes/TI (80/20 per cent) and

$24.921 million to Raytheon. Hughes' other partner, British Aerospace (BAe), also

participated in the missile design.

During the 18-month Dem/Eval program, infra-red missile seeker/computer processor

components were prototyped and tested. Missile design and fighter aircraft integration

studies were also conducted. Hughes' offering was partially based on their Tophat

seeker/tracker flight demonstration, but also drew from their work on the Navy's

Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile (Leap) anti-theater ballistic missile project, which

employed a staring imaging seeker and miniaturized, low-cost processing. Their efforts

also encompassed missile system designs including helmet-mounted sights (HMS), airframes

(including the Boa, Box Office, and derivatives of both), as well as other concepts,

including approaches to airframe maneuverability beyond simple thrust vector control (TVC

). Some of these technologies included canards plus TVC, and the use of active control

thrusters around the missile body to enable a missile to change direction more quickly.

Raytheon was expected to continue flight testing of advanced wide-angle focal plane array

seekers on Box Office airframes.

In addition to the Hughes/Raytheon competition, foreign missile technology was

examined for possible insertion in the AIM-9X program during mid-1996. The alternatives

considered included: a foreign comparative test (FCT) of components purchased from foreign

builders, the inclusion of foreign partners on US teams, and some sort of international

cooperative effort. Competition with foreign competitors, in particular the British

AIM-131, French Mica, Israeli Python and Russian AA-11 was also considered so long as it

"could prove worthwhile" in uncovering new technology that could be adopted by the US.

By 1995, Britain had spent about $1 billion on the AIM-131 ASRAAM program. Live-fire

and flight tests began in mid-1995 using an F-16 at the Eglin AFB, FL range facilities,

with guided tests in the fall. This provided chances to have ASRAAM technology evaluated

both as part of the Hughes AIM-9X team and again through the Pentagon-sponsored FCT. In

the latter program, it was proposed to buy and test ASRAAM's motor, casing and warhead.

In January 1997, a single 5.5-year, $528 million contract for engineering and

manufacturing development (EMD) was awarded. This design entered flight test in late 1997

or early 1998, with IOC expected in 2003.

Concerns about existing AIM-9 shortcomings after it was tested against former East

German 'Fulcrums' equipped with the Russian-built AA-11 'Archer' secured widespread

support for the AIM-9X program . The combination of a HMS and a seeker with 140-180 degree

field of regard (compared to 40 degree for AIM-9L/Ms) gave Archer-equipped fighters a

considerable advantage in a close-in dogfight.

The Israeli Python 4 also had a similar seeker. The goal of the AIM-9X program was

to 'meet or exceed' these capabilities. Navy programs called helmet-mounted cueing/display

(HMC/DS) and high off boresight seeker (HOBS) to develop possible solutions to these

problems began in October 1993.

The final version of the AIM-9X was expected to combine either a IIR staring focal

plane array or pseudo imaging seeker with 90 degree gimbal angles to create a 180 degree

field of regard, and have improved IRCCM to counter new flares. Against a blue sky

background, the former would be able to detect a target at 10 nm (18.4 km), while the

latter's best performance would be about 8 nm (15 km). Both seekers had about a 4-nm (7

km) detection range against a ground clutter background. The advantage of the pseudo

imager was that, with only 12 to 200 detectors, it was less costly and complex, and had

lower processing demands than the 16,000 detector staring focal plane array. Martin

Marietta developed a multispectral seeker between 1988 and 1993 to meet this set of

requirements. Using a clear, segmented nosecone similar to that used by the British

Firestreak AAM, the seeker's computer processed its spatial, spectral, and temporal

inputs, including those from three separate IR wavelengths, to enable it to discriminate

between a target and its background clutter, day or night.

To save costs, the existing AIM-9L/M's BSU-15 AOTD, WDU-17 warhead and Mk 36 rocket

motor were retained. About 8,000-12,000 AIM-9L/Ms and German AIM-9I/Ls would be converted

to AIM-9X standards at a unit cost of about $170,000 by the 5,000th missile. US needs were

expected to require an initial production run of 8,000 to 10,000 missiles.

Three missiles were used to test new control concepts, with the Raytheon and General

Dynamics versions expected to participate in the dem/eval:

Raytheon began developing the USAF-supported ' Box Office ' tail-controlled

Sidewinder in 1988. It had movable tail fins with smaller surfaces than the

AIM-9M, but no canards. The 11-in (28-cm) span X-shaped fins could fit in a

7.8-in (20-cm) square box instead of the 18-in (45-cm) square box of the AIM-9M.

A digital roll control autopilot linked to an inertial reference unit provided

the stability needed to control the missile with small tail surfaces. Eight

successful live firings of the airframe were conducted during its development.

Compared to an AIM-9M, the missile had half the drag, twice the range and g

available, and a speed advantage of 1.2 to 1.3 Mach anywhere in the flyout.

General Dynamics/NWC ' Boa-M ', featuring an AIM-9M with 16-in (40-cm) span wings

and AIM-9D canards controlled by a digital autopilot.

Hughes/Texas Instruments ' Tophat ' was another USAF-supported program. It featured

a 3-5-micron, mid-wave infra-red staring focal plane array seeker integrated with

a Texas Instruments tracker. This IIR GCS was contained in a 115-in (292-cm)

long, 5.6-in (14-cm) diameter airframe, using control surfaces similar to the


In the spring of 1994, competing teams included Loral/BGT (using either Box Office

or Boa configurations), Hughes/BAe (with the AIM-132), and Raytheon (using their Box

Office airframe). The Loral/BGT team was eliminated by the early 1995 Dem/Eval decision,

despite having had a 10-12 per cent lower bid than Raytheon, because of technological

growth issues, not technical shortcomings.

Loral had offered a scanning seeker which was cheaper, but often produced less

information and sensitivity than a staring focal plane array-based seeker. This restricted

growth potential for intercepting stealthy targets, or defeating targets in ground

clutter, or protected by new countermeasures.

Following an Air Force challenge, a two-year, contractor-funded, technology

demonstration culminated in early 1994 with the off-boresight launch of a Box Office

Sidewinder. The missile was fitted with Raytheon's high angle-of-attack/low mach (HALM)

seeker slewed by a helmet-mounted display (HMD). It was launched by an F-16C with slightly

modified fire control software and minor hardware modifications.

For the demonstration, the F-16C attempted to position itself so the Beech MQM-107

target drone was 2 nm (3.7 km) away and 60 degrees to the left, flying at 350 kt (645

km/h). The firing actually occurred when the drone was at 1.3 nm (2.4 km), 67 degrees

right and flying at 388 kt (715 km/h), providing slightly greater challenge than planned,

although no IRCM flares were used.

As the missile was fired, the drone began a 3g turn to the right. As a safety

measure, the missile flew straight for three seconds (when Box Office was fitted with the

HALM seeker, it extended the length of the missile by 5.37 in/13.6 cm beyond the

previously tested configuration, or about 12 in/30 cm longer than the AIM-9M. It also

added about 13 lb to the nose, causing a significant CG shift. This was why the missile

flew straight for the first three seconds.) The missile then pulled 30g for two seconds

and 25g for nearly four seconds as it reached 27 degrees AoA (10 degrees more than

planned) before passing within lethal distance of the drone. The seeker achieved a maximum

deflection of 72 degrees as it tracked the target. Total flight time was 9.2 seconds, but

would have been two seconds less without the safety buffer.

The Honeywell HMD used a magnetic head tracking system to follow pilot head movement

and slave the missile seeker to it. This allowed the pilot to look and cue the missile

anywhere in the front hemisphere. Because of the narrow field of regard of IR seekers, the

HMD made it easier for the pilot to quickly help the seeker acquire the target by simply

moving his head slightly instead of maneuvering the whole aircraft.

The HALM seeker was developed when the USAF was interested in the AIM-9M+ as an

interim step before acquiring the AIM-9X. It was designed for low cost by adding two

gimbals to the AIM-9M's existing free gyro assembly, which moved in azimuth and elevation

while tracking a target. The seeker provided up to 90 degrees of pitch and 360 degrees of

roll, with the free gyro providing yaw. It also allowed the seeker to track the target

while the missile rolled, avoiding gimbal lock, a situation where it did not have the

freedom of motion to maintain track. Because it could detect two to three times further in

the entire front hemisphere, the volume of airspace the HALM seeker could acquire a target

in was actually about 60 times greater than AIM-9M seeker. The AIM-9M seeker could be cued

by radar to acquire a target up to 27.5 degrees (and continue tracking up to 40 degrees)

off boresight before breaking lock. However, seeker sensitivity decreased as it moved off

boresight because the assembly that contained the primary and secondary mirrors for

focusing IR energy were positioned at oblique angles to the single-element detector.

The HALM seeker was designed to keep the mirror assembly within 10 degrees of the

two-hue detector to better focus the IR energy. Ten of the detector's 13 indium antimonide

elements were keyed to tracking target hot spots. The other three elements were designed

for decoy rejection. This detector provided better resolution than the AIM-9M's, giving it

two to three times the range while slewing twice as fast.

AIM-120 Advanced, Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM)

The 345-lb Hughes AIM-120 is the replacement for the AIM-7 Sparrow. An extremely

controversial weapon, it had a long and difficult gestation. Although the full-scale

development (FSD) contract was awarded to Hughes in December 1981, low-rate initial

production (LRIP) did not begin until March 1988, with first delivery to the USAF in the

fall of that year. Raytheon completed production qualification in January 1989 as the

second-source supplier. AMRAAM finally entered full-rate production in April 1992. Initial

expectations were for production of 24,000 missiles, with 2,000-3,000 missiles being

bought per year. However, with the end of the Cold War, total production was only expected

to reach 13,000, with yearly production rarely exceeding 1,000. Production costs decreased

from $1,800,000 each in FY87, to $645,000 in FY92, to $386,000 in FY93 (for 1,165

missiles), to $229,000 in FY94 (for 1,007 AF, 75 USN and 200 FMS missilesa 933/349


AMRAAM's most important improvement is the incorporation of an active radar seeker.

Although done before with the AIM-54 Phoenix, putting this feature into a Sparrow-sized

airframe is a significant achievement. It allows the launching aircraft to simultaneously

engage several targets and maneuver 'out of the fight' before the missiles hit their

targets. The Sparrow, by comparison, requires the launching aircraft to maintain radar

contact with a single target until the missile hits it. The disadvantage of this was

dramatically demonstrated during the famous air intercept missile and air combat

evaluations (AIMval/ACEval) during the mid-1970s. In one engagement, which became known as

'The Towering Inferno', four F-15s engaged four F-5s with simulated AIM-7s. Before they

were all 'shot down' by the Sparrows, the F-5s were able to launch simulated AIM-9s which

'destroyed' all the F-15s. AMRAAM would have allowed a single F-15 to target all four F-5s

before withdrawing beyond the range of their AIM-9s.

The other main area of emphasis with AMRAAM has been reliability and

maintainability. Sparrow was infamous during the Vietnam War for its unreliability.

Getting this feature right was one of the main reasons it took so long to get the AIM-120

into full-rate production, which finally happened in early 1992. Virtually all areas of

performance have been improved over the AIM-7 as well, including reducing motor smoke,

increasing speed and range, improving warhead fuzing and lethality, and better electronic

counter countermeasures (ECCM). By mid-1993 its mean time between failure (MTBF) had risen

to 450 hours, and 82.4 per cent of test firings were rated successful.

The first public disclosure of a passively-guided AMRAAM (AIM-120B?) was made during

the spring of 1994. Its believed that production of these missile began with Lot VI.

The first major improvement to the AIM-120 will be introduced with Lot 8, to be

delivered in mid-1997. These ' Phase 1 ' (AIM-120C) missiles will feature ECCM

improvements and 'clipped' wings, ensuring a mature missile will be available for the

F-22. ' Phase 2 ' improvements, featuring a directional warhead, and an improved target

detecting device, will be introduced with Lot 10, beginning in late 1998. Warhead

improvements will be aimed at making it more capable against twin-engined aircraft. The

original warhead was designed to counter the MiG-23, and it will be necessary to focus the

new warhead's blast (in conjunction with the TDD), and use more and perhaps differently

shaped fragments in it. Plans are to also fund an advanced seeker technology demonstration

contracts with the two AAAM teams, Hughes/Raytheon and General Dynamics/Westinghouse.

Although ECCM improvements were ongoing, specific attention was directed towards guidance

improvements aimed at improving the missile's abilities to counter chaff and active

jamming such as that provided by ALQ-99-equipped aircraft. Some Phase 2 missiles will also

be tested with modified seekers and a 'bank-to-turn' flight control system as part of a

risk-reduction program for incorporation of a ducted-rocket motor.

Concerns about the ability of the Russian AA-12 'AAM-AE' to strike targets

maneuvering at 12g from a 50-nm (92-km) launch range have given a sense of urgency to

efforts to improve AMRAAM propulsion. This improvement will come by incorporating a liquid

fuel integral ramjet, multipulse rocket, bi-plateau propellant rocket, variable flow

ducted rocket (VFDR), or a booster rocket on advanced AIM-120s to increase their range,

sustainable speed, and terminal maneuverability. The goal is to increase AMRAAM's range by

about 50 per cent (20-30 nm/37-55 km) with enough energy and maneuverability to defeat 9g

maneuvers by a chaff-dispensing target. ' Phase 3 ' missiles will actually feature the

advanced rocket motor and may be accelerated to minimize the effects of the cancellation

of the Navy's advanced air-to-air missile (AAAM) AIM-54 replacement. Its configuration has

yet to be defined, but will fit into the same volume as the Phase 1 missiles, and may be a

wingless lifting body.

Have Dash Program

Have Dash was a test program to develop 'bank-to-turn' flight control systems for

air-to-air missiles. In theory, this would allow the missile to generate lift more

efficiently, permitting terminal maneuvers to be increased from 35g to as much as 50g. The

Have Dash missile featured a triangular-section, graphite-composite airframe without wings

or a guidance, navigation and control computer (GNCC). To reduce costs it used an AIM-7

rocket motor. The Have Dash 1 program demonstrated safe separation techniques from the

weapons bay of Eglin's F-111E, while Have Dash 2 planned six actual launches. These

missiles were not fitted with seekers.

Because it only weighs about 350 lb, AMRAAM can be rail-launched from stations

previously associated only with AIM-9s. AMRAAM launchers can be distinguished from the

earlier LAU-114 Sidewinder rails by their blunter noses and include the 115.5-in (293-cm)

long LAU-127 (F-14/18), 106-in (269-cm) long LAU-128 (F-16 wingtip), and LAU-129 (F-15).

AIM-120 began replacing the AIM-7 on all F-14Ds, F-15s (beginning in September 1991),

F-16s (beginning in January 1992), F/A-18s (in September 1993), F-22As and German F-4Fs.

The LAU-139 was a Swiss modification of the LAU-127 to permit carriage of the AIM-9P-5.

The first operational use of AMRAAM was during the Gulf War, when the F-15Cs of the

33rd TFW took it into combat. Unfortunately, by the time the aircraft software was set up

to allow carriage of AIM-7s, -9s and -120s, the Iraqi air force was hiding in its shelters

(or fleeing to Iran), and there was no opportunity to actually use the new missile in

combat. The first combat use of the missile came on 27 December 1992, when an F-16C

participating in Operation Southern Watch shot down an Iraqi MiG-25. Subsequently, another

MiG-25 was probably killed and a MiG-23 was definitely shot down (on 17 January 1993) over

Iraq using AMRAAMs. The next kill was made by an F-16C from the 86th FW over Bosnia on 28

February 1994 against a Serbian-flown Galeb light attack aircraft.

In addition to the US, AMRAAM will be bought by the United Kingdom, Turkey, South

Korea, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway. In February 1994, Norway placed a

production order with Hughes and Norsk Forszvarsteknologi (NFT) for 36 launchers and

support equipment to use a surface-launched AMRAAM-based system to replace its Hawk SAM


Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Silo-Launched and Cruise Missiles


LGM-118 Peacekeeper

Commonly known as MX, Martin Marietta's 195,000-lb LGM-118 was originally conceived

as a mobile system to decrease its vulnerability to attack. The Peacekeeper is a

four-stage missile which can deliver 10 500-kT warheads at intercontinental ranges. While

several concepts were considered, a railroad-based system was eventually settled upon. A

controversial system, development of the hardware proceeded faster than the political

debate surrounding its basing. As an interim solution, 50 of the 100 authorized missiles

were deployed beginning on 13 September 1986 with the 90th SMW, at F. E. Warren AFB,

Wyoming, in former Minuteman III silos. The Peacekeeper began alert duties on 10 October

1986. The other missiles were stored as they were produced. Plans to develop the rail

basing system were canceled in September 1991, in response to the dramatic changes in the

world situation. President Bush announced cancellation of further production during his

State-of-the-Union Address in January 1992 and proposed scrapping of existing missiles if

the former Soviet Union would scrap their large, multiple warhead ICBMs. Current plans

call for the LGM-118s to be retired between 2000 and 2004.

LGM-30 Minuteman

The Minuteman silo-launched, surface attack, guided missile (LGM)-30 has been

operational for over 20 years. Built by Boeing, this solid-fuel, three-stage missile is

named for the quickness of its response as much as the volunteer soldiers of the American

Revolution. Ten missiles are controlled from each two-man command site.

First delivery of an SM-80 Minuteman IA (later HGM-80A) to an operational unit was

on 27 July 1962 to the 341st SMW at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, becoming operationally ready

on 11 December 1962 with the 10th SMS. The final LGM-30As stood down from alert with the

10th SMS on 15 January 1969.

First delivery of an HGM-80B Minuteman IB to an operational unit was on 20 April

1963 to the 44th SMW at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, becoming operationally ready in July

1963 with the 66th SMS. The final LGM-30Bs stood down from alert with the 320th SMS on 3

September 1974 at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

The 73,000-lb LGM-30F Minuteman II had a 6,000-nm (11,064-km) range and carried a

single, 1.2-mT warhead. First delivery of an LGM-30 F to an operational unit was on 5

August 1965 to the 447th SMS of the 321st SMW at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, becoming

operationally ready in January 1966. These 450 missiles stood down from alert during

September 1991 as part of a US initiative to reduce nuclear tensions.

The 78,000-lb LGM-30G Minuteman III has a 7,000-nm (12,908-km) range and carries

three 335-kT warheads. First launched in 1968, initial delivery to an operational unit

was on 14 April 1970 to the 91st SMW at Minot AFB, North Dakota, becoming operationally

ready with the 741st SMS on 19 August 1970. Fifty of the original force of 550 were been

replaced by the LGM-118, with the remainder staying operational. However, during his

January 1992 State-of-the-Union Address, President Bush announced plans to remove two of

each missile's three warheads.

Minuteman Production

XSM-80 59-05963/05988 26

XSM-80 61-02084/02117 34

SM-80 62-03598/03602 5

SM-80 63-00001/00228 228

SM-80 64-00001/00448 448

SM-80 64-00460/00483 24

SM-80 64-15463/15475 13

SM-80 64-15502/15542 41

SM-80 64-17543/17556 14

SM-80 64-18022/18024 3

LGM-30 65-00001/00208 208

LGM-30F 65-00282/00579 298

LGM-30 66-02504/02612 109

LGM-30 66-08255/08302 48

LGM-30F 66-09245/09248 4

LGM-30F 67-00470/00668 199

LGM-30F 67-00669/00694 26 cnx

LGM-30F 68-03832/03891 60

LGM-30G 69-00048/00235 188

LGM-30G 70-00689/00928 240

LGM-30G 71-00380/00499 120

LGM-30G 71-00855/00857 3

LGM-30G 72-00289/00435 147

LGM-30G 73-00719/00838 120

LGM-30G 73-01614/01615 2

LGM-30G 73-01700 1

LGM-30G 74-00822/00957 136

LGM-30G 75-00310/00313 4

LGM-30G 76-00143/00157 15

LGM-30G 77-00001/00060 60


Boeing's Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) was initially envisioned as a

replacement for the ADM-20 Quail decoy missile and called subsonic cruise armed decoy

(SCAD). It was finally developed as the AGM-86A to be a long-range complement for the

AGM-69 SRAM, with which it had launcher compatibility. The length of the AGM-86A was

defined by the length of the B-1A's weapons bay. After cancellation of the B-1A, the

AGM-86 was redesigned prior to competing against the AGM-109H Tomahawk to see which

missile would arm the B-52G. Called AGM-86B, the new missile had a longer fuselage, since

it would only be used with the B-52. First delivered to the 416th BMW at Griffiss AFB,

New York, on 11 January 1981 (where it began alert duties on 16 December 1982), ALCMs

were equipped with the 200-kT W80-1 warhead. The 3,200-lb AGM-86B is a subsonic,

turbojet-powered missile with a range in excess of 1,500 nm (2,775 km). As B-52Gs were

withdrawn from service, B-52Hs became ALCM carriers. Although the B-1B was designed with

ALCM carriage in mind, it was never used in that role operationally.

The most interesting aspect of cruise missiles is their guidance system. Although

the altitude flown is controlled by a radar altimeter, the clearance level commanded

varies during the mission, depending on terrain, so the missile flies just high enough to

avoid hitting terrain rising faster than the radar altimeter and flight controls can

compensate for. The flight path is painstakingly planned to pass over several areas of

distinctive terrain. The relative elevations of these areas are stored in the navigation

computer. As the missile flies over an area, it compares the actual radar readings with

those in the computer and uses this information to update its inertial navigation system.

Early in the flight, these areas are fairly large, but, as the mission progresses, get

progressively smaller and more accurate. This type of guidance system can be

frighteningly accurate, but requires extensive, painstaking mission planning.

It was revealed a year after the Gulf War that seven B-52Gs fired 35 AGM-86C

conventional ALCMs (CALCM) against eight targets in northern Iraq, including

hydroelectric and geothermal power plants near Mosul, and the telephone exchange in

Basara. The announcement of this attack provided the first public knowledge of this

previously secret ALCM variant, which began development in July 1986 as a result of

requirements generated in the wake the Libyan bombing raid the previous April. The

classified codename for the program was Senior Surprise, although the crews called them

'Secret Squirrels'.

Flight testing began in August 1987, with the CALCM being declared operational in

January 1988. Planners referred to the missiles as extra long range bombs (XLRB) to

maintain the secret of their existence for as long as possible. The modifications to each

of the 'more than three dozen' AGM-86Cs cost $380,000 per missile and included a 1,000-lb

blast-fragmentation warhead and incorporation of GPS guidance. The latter feature vastly

simplifies mission planning requirements and increases flexibility by enabling missions

to be planned over featureless terrain like that found in Middle Eastern deserts. Most of

the CALCMs were expended during the Gulf War missions, but more were modified after the

war. By September 1994, consideration was being given to equipping CALCMs with carbon

fiber warheads like those used by BGM-109s during Desert Storm and electromagnetic pulse

(EMP) generator warheads. The latter would produce a momentary burst of microwave energy

to disable electronic devices associated with enemy command and control facilities.

Escalating costs of the AGM-137 led to its cancellation in February 1995 and

consideration of buying more AGM-86Cs, -130s, and/or -142s. The CALCM option is favored

by some because those missiles have already been paid for and are available because of

their disappearing nuclear attack role.


Based on lessons learned in Vietnam, the 800-lb class AGM-88 High-Speed

Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) is fast enough to give SAM operators minimum opportunity to

shut down their radar before the HARM does it for them. HARM has three modes of

employment. In the prebriefed mode the missile is programmed on the ground for up to

three specific missile sites. Upon detecting one of the sites, it is launched on a

ballistic trajectory towards it. Although HARM can be launched in the direction of a

target, it guides in azimuth only, not range, thus relying on the target to emit and

identify itself. The self-protection mode launches the missile against threats detected

by the launching aircraft's radar warning receiver. The target of opportunity (TOO) mode

uses the HARM's seeker to help determine when to launch against a previously unknown

threat. One interesting technique used during the opening stages of the Gulf War was to

use BQM-74C targets and ADM-141 TALDs as decoys. They enticed the SAM sites into turning

on their radars for an incoming barrage of HARMs.

There are three versions of the AGM-88, differing mainly in the features of the

guidance section electronics. All versions use BSU-59 wings, BSU-60 tail fins, a YSR

113-TC-1 64,000 lb-second total impulse rocket motor, a WCU-2 control section (with

DSU-19 pulsed laser, proximity/contact target detector), a WAU-7 146-lb blast

fragmentation warhead (AGM-88A and B only) and different versions of the WGU-2 guidance

section. The missiles are overall FSN 36622 gray with a 2-in (5-cm) FSN 23538 yellow band

two in behind the front edge of the warhead and a 2-in FSN 20117 brown band two in behind

the front edge of the motor.

Block I seekers require the seeker to be sent back to a depot in the US to be

reprogrammed using hardware changes. The Block II seeker introduced electronically

erasable/programmable read only memory (EEPROM) which allowed the seeker to be

reprogrammed on the flight line. Block III is essentially a new software program for the

Block II hardware that is installed during depot maintenance (Block I seekers were not

upgraded because it would have required a major hardware modification). The AGM-88A used

both Block I & II seekers. The AGM-88B used both Block II & III seekers. The Block III

AGM-88B was the main version used during the Gulf War, and its reprogramming capability

was used on both USAF and USMC missiles. The Block IV AGM-88C entered service in

early-1993. In early 1994, software changes to the aircraft-mounted command launch

computer (CLC) were released to take advantage of the Block IV missile's seeker ability

to self-guide in the TOO mode. The Block IV incorporates a doubling of seeker range,

improved performance against frequency agile radars, and replacement of the steel cubes

in the warhead with considerably more lethal tungsten alloy ones.

Texas Instruments was contracted to produce 2,041 AGM-88Cs to replace HARMs

expended during the 1991 Gulf War (USN A-6E, EA-6B, A-7E, and F/A-18 aircraft launched

661 HARMs, while USMC EA-6B and F/A-18s launched 241, and USAF F-4G and F-16Cs launched

about 1,100). The TI seeker, known as the AGM-88C-1 completed testing before a proposed

competitor, Loral's AGM-88C-2 low-cost seeker was ready to enter testing. In addition,

the Navy acquired 624, and the Air Force 750, new seekers to upgrade Block III missiles

during FY94 and FY95. This brings HARM production totals to approximately 21,000 (plus

another 1,000 guidance head retrofits). There were no plans to export Block IV missiles.

The USAF only employs HARM from F-4Gs and F-16C 'Wild Weasels', launching them from

the LAU-118(V)2A launch rails (modified from LAU-34s), that can also launch the older

AGM-45. The F-4G is by far the HARM's most effective launch platform because its APR-47

system allows it to detect, identify and precisely locate threat radars, then attacking

or directing other aircraft to attack them. Passing consideration was given to arming

EF-111As with HARM, but this would have required rewiring its wing stations. The AGM-88B

has been exported to Germany and Italy (Tornado ECRs), Australia (F-111C), Spain

(F/A-18), South Korea and Turkey (F-16).

AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM)

Intended as a stealthy replacement for the AGM-86B, the ACM first flew in July

1985, with deliveries of production AGM-129As beginning in June 1990. Built by General

Dynamics (now Hughes), the 2,750-lb ACM has a range of more than 1,800 nm (3,320 km) and

features improved accuracy and targeting flexibility, but the same W80-1 warhead as the

AGM-86. About 640 missiles were under contract, with plans for 1,461 missiles to arm

B-52Hs, when President Bush announced cancellation of further production during his

State-of-the-Union Address in January 1992. Due to cost overruns and funding cuts, the

final number actually built was only 461. Operational training launches began during

1991, and there are no plans to integrate the missile with any other airframes.

Copyright (c) 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.; All Rights Reserved.

US Air Force: Weapons

Underwater Mines, Rockets, and Miscellaneous Stores


Mines have three interactive designations: The Mark (Mk) designation is applied to

the basic mine case, or case/anchor combination. The Modification (Mod) applies to

internal differences, such as the type of influence firing mechanism used. The Operational

Assembly (OA), which is unique to mines, applies to external differences, such as the type

of flight gear installed. There are two categories of air-delivered mines. Service mines

are the operational devices with live warheads.

The two modern classes of underwater mines are bottom and moored. The former are

normally used in shallow water, but can also be used against submarines in very deep

water. The latter are deep-water mines and are effective against both surface vessels and

submarines. The two major considerations for moored mines are position stability and

mooring depth. The first is satisfied by an anchor to fix the mine to a known position on

the seabed, while the second uses techniques that depend on the mine.

Various safety devices and accessories are also used with mines. Ship counters

prevent a mine from detonating until several ships have passed nearby, thus making it more

difficult to sweep. Hydrostatic arming devices prevent arming until the mine reaches the

desired depth. Clock delay mechanisms delay arming until a preset time has elapsed, while

a sterilizer deactivates or detonates the mine at a preset time.

Modern mine sweeping operations generally have three phases. First the tethers of

moored mines are cut by a long blade dragged through the water by a helicopter. As the

mines float to the surface they are destroyed by gunfire. Next, the helicopters drag a

sled with acoustic and magnetic characteristics similar to a passing ship through the

water to activate bottom mines. Finally, the remaining mines are hunted by mine sweepers

using sonar.

Exercise and Training (ET) mines are used for training and fleet exercises. They

are identified by letters suffixed to their OA designations. Non-flight qualified ET mines

include the FSN 35109 blue Shop mines (OA designations suffixed by the letter N) used in

component assembly training, and the bronze-painted Handling mines (OA designations

suffixed by the letter J) used for load training.

Actuation mines (flight-qualified OA designations suffixed by the letter B) are

functionally identical to actual mines, but have inert warheads. They are delivered like

an actual mine and are primarily used for realistic training exercises. In addition to the

normal electronics package, which enables them to mimic their live Mk/Mod counterparts,

these mines are equipped with smoke/flare buoy-signals which are set off to indicate when

a service mine would have detonated. A Mk 117 'drill shield' is attached to the rear of

each mine, containing a Mk 64 delay switch to set off sonar transmitters at the end of the

exercise to aid in mine recovery for reuse. The Mk 117 also contains a recording device to

log the time of each mine activation to aid in exercise evaluation. These mines are

painted FSN 32246 orange and FSN 37875 white.

Laying mines (OA designations suffixed by the letter K) are used to conduct aircrew

training of delivery techniques. While all flight-required equipment functions like an

actual mine, the only active electronic component is a sonar transmitter to aid in

recovery for reuse (not required for obsolete mines). These mines are painted FSN 32246

orange with two 6-in (15-cm) wide FSN 37875 white bands to enhance their visibility


Mk 52 and Mk 55 Bottom Mines

First deployed in the late 1950s, these bottom mines introduced modular assembly,

allowing its firing assembly to be stored separately from the mine case that contained the

warhead. Although designed primarily for anti-submarine use, these mines were also

effective against surface targets.

The 1,200-lb class Mk 52 had a 595-lb warhead, while the 2,200-lb class Mk 55 s

weighed 1,270 lb. Their unique flight hardware included nose fairings and box fins for

stability, and parapaks to ease water entry. However, the Mk 52 and 55 shared common

firing mechanisms, and their Mod designations were assigned with reference to the

actuation methods used: pressure (0), acoustic (1), magnetic (2 and 12), magnetic and

pressure (3 and 13), pressure and acoustic (4), acoustic and magnetic (5), and pressure,

acoustic, and magnetic (6).

Declared obsolete in late 1993, inert 'Laying' versions of these mines continue to

be used for training because of their similarity in size and delivery technique to the Mk

56 and Mk 60. They can be carried both internally and externally by HSAB-equipped


Service Mk 55s were painted FSN 34087 olive drab, with white stenciling. Four 3-in

(7.6-cm) diameter FSN 33538 yellow dots were spaced 90 degrees apart around the mine

circumference, starting 45 degrees off the vertical centerline, just behind the nose

fairing. 'HBX-1' was stenciled in yellow between (and aligned with) the two dots on the

left side of the mine. Two 0.5-in (1.3-cm) diameter yellow dots were located on the arming

device, and a single 2-in (5-cm) diameter yellow dot was stenciled on the back of the

parachute pack, adjacent to the control unit well.

Mk 56 Moored Mine

The Mk 56 is a 2,200-lb class air-laid moored mine designed specifically for use

against deep-diving, high-speed submarines. A 360-lb warhead is contained in a

non-magnetic, stainless-steel case along with the detection mechanism. An optional nose

fairing is fitted over the cast steel anchor at the front of the mine, with additional

flight gear for aircraft launch attaches to the tail, completing the mine. Once planted,

the Mk 56 deploys hydrostatically, which means that the entire mine sinks to the seabed

where the buoyant mine deploys from the anchor. If the mine sinks into mud before

separating from the anchor, a slow-burning propellant (called a mud agitator) is used to

free it. The mine then rises until reaching the desired depth. Eight can be carried

internally and 12 externally by HSAB-equipped B-52D/G/Hs.

The Mk 56 mine case is painted with copperpac, a dull, brick red (no FSN),

anti-fouling paint, while the anchor is FSN 37038 black. The nose fairing, parachute pack,

and tail fins are FSN 34087 olive drab. Four 3-in (7.6-cm) diameter FSN 33538 yellow dots

are spaced 90 degrees apart around the mine circumference, starting 45 degrees off the

vertical centerline, in line with the arming device at the rear of the mine, where two

0.5-in (1.3-cm) diameter yellow dots are located. Most stenciling is in 0.5-in high FSN

37875 white letters. 'HBX-3' is stenciled in 3-in high yellow letters on the left side of

the mine, just behind the dot above the arming device. A single 2-in (5-cm) diameter

yellow dot is stenciled on the back of the parachute pack, adjacent to the control unit


Mk 60 Captor Moored Mine

The 2,350-lb class Goodyear/Loral Mk 60 CAPTOR (for enCAPsulated TORpedo) is a

moored mine which contains a Mk 46 torpedo. The original requirement for this weapon was

first stated in 1962, with the specific operation requirement being laid out in May 1964,

when the name CAPTOR was first used. It was hoped at that time that this weapon could

reduce mine barrier costs by a factor of 100, and mine quantities by a factor of 400.

Production of CAPTOR began in 1977, but it did not become operational until early 1980. As

CAPTOR enters the water, its anchor deploys from the main part of the mine on a precut

cable to the seabed or until it is completely extended. If the water is shallow, the mine

will remain just above the seabed. However, if the water is deep, the anchor will continue

to deploy while the mine remains at a constant depth. When the anchor eventually reaches

the seabed it will lock to keep the mine at the desired depth.

The Aerojet Mk 46 Torpedo is a deep-diving, high-speed, lightweight torpedo which

features active/passive acoustic homing and a 100-lb warhead. It began development in

1960, entered service in 1965, and began replacing the earlier Mk 44 in 1967. The Mod 4

used with the CAPTOR mine has a speed of about 40 kt (74 km/h), uses a helical search

pattern for target acquisition, and is capable of multiple reattacks if it misses the


Deployed by ships, submarines, and aircraft as an anti-submarine weapon, CAPTOR's

detection and control unit (DCU) is capable of discriminating between surface ships and

submarines. It initially operates in a passive mode, listening for submarines. Once a

target is detected and judged to be within range, it shifts to an active mode, determining

the optimum time to release the torpedo.

Eight CAPTORs can be carried internally and 10 externally by HSAB-equipped B-52G/Hs.

Mk 65 Quickstrike Bottom Mine

Instead of using a Mk 80 series bomb body, the 2,300-lb Mk 65 Quickstrike bottom

mine introduced a completely new, thin-walled mine casing. It resembles earlier

purpose-built mines more than the other Quickstrikes. The Mk 65 Mod 0 uses the same Mk 57

TDD as other Quickstrikes, while the Mk 65 Mod 1 uses the Mk 58. Both use the Mk 45 Safe

and Arming device. The only difference between the OA 01 and OA 02 is the internal battery

each uses.

The Mk 65 is painted FSN 36087 olive drab with 0.5-in (1.3-cm) high FSN 37875 white

stenciling. Four 3-in (7.6-cm) diameter FSN 33538 yellow dots are spaced 90 degrees apart

around the mine circumference, starting 45 degrees off the vertical centerline, just

behind the nose where the mine becomes cylindrical. 'PBXN-103' is stenciled in 3-in high

yellow letters between (and perpendicular to) the two dots on the left side of the mine. A

single 2-in diameter yellow dot is stenciled on the back of the parachute pack.

Air-Delivered Underwater Mines

Mine Carriage Operational Flight Remarks

Assemblies Hardware

Nose Fin Parapak

External 01 Mk 7 inc. Mk 20 Obsolete

07 Mk 19 inc. Mk 20 Obsolete

02 (Mod 11 only), 05, Mk 19 inc. Mk 35 Obsolete

05K, 10, 12, 14

Mk 52 Internal 02, 02B, 02K none Mk 10 Mk 20 Obsolete

06, 06B none Mk 20 Mk 20 Obsolete

03, 03B, 03K, 08 none Mk 10 Mk 35 Obsolete

01 (Mod 11 only) none Mk 20 Mk 35 Obsolete

04, 04K, 09, 11, 13 none Mk 20 Mk 35 Obsolete

Mk 55 External 01 (Mod 11 only) Mk 13 inc. Mk 24 Obsolete

02, 04, 04K, 06, 08, Mk 20 inc. Mk 36 Obsolete

10, 12

Internal 02 (Mod 11 only, 02B none Mk 9 Mk 24 Obsolete

01, 03, 03B, 03K, 05, none Mk 18 Mk 36 Obsolete

05B, 07, 09, 11

Mk 56 External 08 Mk 21 n/a Mk 28 Obsolete

06, 06K, 10, 10K 12, Mk 21 n/a Mk 28


Internal 01, 02, 03, 04, 07 none n/a Mk 28 Obsolete

05, 05K, 09, 09K, 11, none n/a Mk 28


Mk 60 Int./Ext. 01, 01K Mk 38



Mk 65 Int./Ext. 01, 01K, 02 Mk 65 Mk 7 inc. Quickstrike

Underwater Mine Actuation Devices

Underwater mines are designed to detonate near ships with sufficient explosive force

to cause the ship to abort its mission. US mines during and since World War II have relied

on Influence detonation, which detects the magnetic, acoustic, and pressure fields of

passing vessels. Most Mk 55 mines use a combination of influence fuzing mechanisms to

reduce their susceptibility to mine countermeasures.

Magnetic influence uses two basic techniques. Bottom mines normally use a magnetic

induction system, which senses magnetic field changes caused by a ship's passage, using

the ship's own magnetic field to generate the electrical current to detonate the mine. Mk

56 moored mines use the Mk 25 or Mk 26 total field magnetometers, more sophisticated,

three-dimensional device that analyze the magnitude and rate of magnetic field change

before initiating detonation.

Acoustic influence mechanisms use hydrophones, transducers, and other devices to

detect underwater sounds, then analyze them to reject non-ship sounds. If ship sounds

became loud enough, the mine is detonated.

Pressure influence mechanisms sense reduction in water pressure to determine if a

ship is passing nearby. If the ship is traveling at sufficient speed to create the

required pressure change, the mine is detonated. This technique is always used in

conjunction with acoustic and magnetic sensors, and is particularly valuable, since it

makes the mine highly resistant to mine sweeping efforts.

Underwater Mine Actuation Devices

Mine Mods Device Type

Mk 55 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, & 13 Mk 20 magnetic

1, 4, 5, 6, 12 & 13 Mk 21 acoustic

0, 3, 4, 6 & 13 Mk 22 pressure

7 Mk 37 dual channel magnetic

11 Mk 42 magnetic/seismic

Mk 56 0 Mk 25 & 26 total field magnetometer

Mk 60 0 & 1 Mk 17 detector control unit

Mk 65 0 Mk 57 magnetic/seismic TDD

1 Mk 58 magnetic/seismic TDD

Destructor and Quickstrike Bottom Mines

Developed to alleviate the need to build large stockpiles of specialized, expensive,

but rarely used mines, the Mk 36, Mk 40 and (now obsolete) Mk 41 Destructors (DST s) are

Mk 80 series GP bombs fitted with mine components.

Destructors are primarily designed for use in rivers, canals, channels, and harbors

for use against ships, freighters, coastal ships, and small craft. They are also the first

mines capable of use as land mines, burying themselves in the ground to be actuated by

passing vehicles or personnel. Mk 36 OAs with conical fins were mixed in with loads of GP

bombs and dropped by B-52D/F/Gs during Vietnam Arc Light missions to disrupt operations in

recently bombed areas.

The Mk 62 and Mk 63 Quickstrike (QS) bottom mines are the eventual successors to the

Destructors. Their name comes from the short amount of time required to modify Mk 80

series GP bombs for use as bottom mines against both submarines and ships. The Mk 64

designation was assigned as the Mk 84-based QS, but it was never deployed operationally.

Because of their similarity to GP bombs, QS and DSTs can be delivered by any

aircraft that can drop the basic bomb/fin combination. Except for the B-52G/H, which can

carry the Mk 40, USAF aircraft are only cleared to use the Mk 36 and M117D.

The nose-mounted Mk 32 mechanical arming device arms these mines after sensing both

release from the aircraft and surface impact. Target type and detonation time is

determined by Destructor's Mk 42 Firing Mechanism (FM), which is fitted in the warhead

tail fuze cavity. The combination of the Mk 32 and Mk 42, along with other minor

components which form the basis for the Destructor, are known as the Mk 75. The USAF's

M117D (sometimes called the Mk 59) also uses the Mk 75. In the Quickstrike, the FM has

been replaced with the Mk 57 Target Detector Device (TDD), the only difference between the

two mine families. It features arming-delay, sterilization, and self-destruct


Differences between the various Destructor Mods are defined by the internal

batteries used, while the OAs define external configurations. Currently, the Mk 75 Mod 12

kit is used to form either Mod 7 or 15 DSTs, depending on the battery being used. Mines

with retard fins designed to be carried internally use a 'cable and strap' assembly which

unwraps from around the bomb body, serving as a lanyard spacer to delay fin opening until

the weapon is clear of the weapon bay. (On the B-52G/H, mine fins are set in a '+'

configuration for internal, and 'x' for eternal carriage.)

While most DSTs and QSs use fins developed for GP bombs, both the Mk 11 and Mk 12

'Paratails' were purpose-built for mining operations. The Mk 16 Paratail is externally

similar to the USAF's BSU-49 AIR, replacing the former's 'ballute' with a parachute.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, two new TDDs were developed for use with QS

mines. The abortive Mk 70 would have equipped Mod 2 QSs and is believed to have

incorporated magnetic, seismic, and pressure fuzing. The Mk 71 was developed to equip Mod

3 QSs and added a ship counter to the Mk 70s capabilities. However, funding dried up with

the end of the cold war, and the Mod 3 never became operational.

Operational Destructor and Quickstrike Mines

Warhead Mine Fin Operational Weight Remarks


Mk 82 Mk 36 Mk 82 CFA 14, 15, 16, 38, 39, 540 Obsolete

40, 40K

Mk 15 SE 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 570 Obsolete

24, 42, 43, 46, 47

44, 44K Internal

48, 48K External

Mk 16 51 530 USN only

BSU-86 54 500 USN only

Mk 62 Mk 15 SE 02, 02K 570 Internal

03, 03K External

Mk 12 08 500 Internal

09 External

Mk 83 Mk 40 Mk 83 CFA 14, 15, 16, 38, 39, 1,000 Obsolete

40, 40K

MAU-91A/B 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 1,070 Obsolete

24, 42, 43, 46, 47

44, 44K Internal

48, 48K External

Mk 12 49, 49K 1,020 Internal

50, 50K, 51 External

Mk 63 MAU-91A/A 02, 02K 1,070 Internal

03, 03K External

Mk 12 06 1,020 External

Mk 84 Mk 41 Mk 84 CFA 02, 03, 04, 14, 15, 1,970 Obsolete

16, 26, 27, 28, 38,

39, 40

Mk 11 49, 49K 1,970 Internal

50 External

M117 M117D MAU-91B/A 01 860 Internal

02 External

There is no difference in the markings of Destructor and Mk 80 series Quickstrike

mines. The unpainted nose-mounted Mk 32 arming device has a gold tinge, while the rest of

the mine has standard markings of its associated bomb body (overall FSN 34087 olive drab

with 3-in/7.6-cm wide FSN 33538 yellow bands around the nose). While the older conical,

MAU-91, and Mk 15 Snakeye fins are FSN 34087 olive drab, the newer BSU-86 and Mk 11, 12,

and 16 fins are FSN 36375 gray. On the latter fins, four 2-in (5-cm) diameter FSN 33538

yellow dots are aligned with, and about 4 in (10 cm) in front of, the tail fins. Two more

2-in diameter yellow dots are stenciled on the back of the parachute pack.

In addition to the standard bomb body markings, 1-in (2.5-cm) wide white reflective

tape is applied to make the mines distinctive. One stripe girdles the bomb between the

suspension lugs, and four stripes are applied between the aft lug and the rear of the bomb

body, spaced 90 degrees apart around the bomb circumference, starting 45 degrees off the

vertical centerline (although not specified, these stripes appear to be about 6-in/15 cm

long). During Vietnam, experience showed that Destructors marked with these stripes were

often defused and salvaged by enemy forces; therefore the stripes are often not applied,

making the half-buried body appear the same as a GP bomb. Finally, the mine control number

is stenciled on the left side of the nose, just behind the yellow band in 0.5-in high

white letters.

2.75-in Rockets

Developed under the ' Mighty Mouse ' program after World War II, 2.75-in (7-cm)

rockets were initially designed as air-to-air weapons. Entering service in 1956, they

served as the primary armament of numerous early jet interceptors. With the advent of

radar guided air-to-air missiles, rockets were relegated to the air-to-ground role and

were widely used during the Vietnam War by all services. By the end of the war their use

with the USAF for other than target marking duties ceased. Although they claim all of the

following, it is believed that the only rockets actually still being used by the USAF are

the M427 fuze, M156 smoke warhead, and Mk 66 motor combination in the LAU-131 launcher

(along with the WTU-1/B for training).

2.75-in Rocket Fuzes

Most 2.75-in rocket fuzes are armed by being subjected to 20g acceleration for about

one second. Others arm when the motor actually burns out. Various fuzes of the same class

differ from one another by evolutionary internal improvements. They are generally about 2

in (5 cm) long and unpainted with black markings.

Impact fuzes function after striking a surface and are called 'point detonating'

(PD) because they are nose-mounted. The Mk 176 features a slight functioning delay to

increase target penetration before detonation. The Mk 178 is a Mk 176 which detonates

instantaneously. Both are used exclusively with the Mk 1 warhead. The Mk 181 is used

exclusively with the Mk 5 HEAT warhead and functions instantaneously, but requires steep

impact angles to be effective against armor. The M423 is a Mk 178 primarily used by

helicopters. It arms more quickly and has an improved capability against soft and water

targets. The M427 is a M423 that arms more slowly, making it more suited to aircraft use.

The 3-in (7.6-cm) long M423 and M427 are the most widely used USAF fuzes.

Acceleration/deceleration fuzes sense deceleration as the motor burns out, causing

the warhead to function. The Model 113A arms after being subjected to 25g, then functions

as the rocket decelerates through 11g. It is an integral part of and used exclusively with

WDU-4A/A flechette warheads.

Inert M435, Mk 178, and Mk 181 fuzes lack any explosive content and are used with

inert training warheads.

2.75-in Rocket Warheads

Explosive warheads only use nose fuzing and are olive drab with yellow letters (and

sometimes nose bands). The 8-in (20-cm) long Mk 1 high-explosive (HE) warheads have a

relatively thin soft steel case filled with 1.4 lb of high explosive. Service versions Mk

1 Mods 1, 3, 4, and 5 all look the same, while the Mod 7 is more rounded. The Mod 2

trainer is inert-loaded. HE warheads are included as part of the HE-Frag classification,

considered effective against relatively soft targets such as parked aircraft, personnel

carriers, radar emplacements, trucks, etc. The 6.5-in (16.5-cm) long Mk 5 high-explosive

anti-tank (HEAT) warhead features a shaped-charge which uses less than 1 lb of explosive

to create a high-energy jet capable of piercing armor. HEAT rounds are effective against

tanks, trains, heavy vehicles, and bunkers. The Mk 1 and Mk 5 are both restricted to use

with the older Mk 4 and Mk 40 motors. The 10.5-in (27-cm) long M151 HE-Frag warhead

contains 2.3 lb of explosive and is constructed of either soft steel or cast iron,

sometimes called pearlite malleable iron (PMI). It differs from the Mk 1 in that it

creates higher velocity fragments and can be used with the Mk 66 motor.

The 10.5-in (27-cm) long M156 smoke warhead is used for daylight, overland, target

marking. It is green with red letters and has a soft steel case similar to the M151, only

filled with white phosphorus (WP). When exposed to the atmosphere it creates about two

minutes of white smoke and a minor incendiary effect.

The 15.5-in (39-cm) long WDU-4A/A Flechette warhead has a black, light metal casing

with white letters and plastic nose assemblies of various colors. It expels hundreds of

anti-personnel darts in a shotgun-like cloud after motor burnout. Considered effective

against personnel and lightly armored vehicles, it is restricted to LAU-61/-68 length


Dummy heads are single-piece castings used to simulate given warhead/fuze

combinations. Blue with white lettering, they include the 10-in (25-cm) long Mk 61 (Mk 1

with a Mk 176/178 fuze), and 13.5-in (34-cm) long WTU-1/B (M151 with a M423/427 fuze).

2.75-in Rocket Motors

The 39-in (99-cm) long Mk 4 folding-fin aircraft rocket (FFAR) motors are white with

black markings and a brown band. Initial deliveries of the Mk 4 occurred in 1954, with

most being built in 1967 during the Vietnam War. The Mk 40 low-speed FFAR (LSFFAR) was

introduced during Vietnam, featuring a 'scarfed' nozzle to spin-stabilize it when launched

from helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft. With the advent of the Mk 66, the Mk 4/40

series motors were relegated to training duties, virtually all having been expended or

condemned by the mid-1990s.

Design of the 42-in (107-cm) long Mk 66 was completed in 1967, but production of the

wrap-around-fin aircraft rocket (WAFAR) did not begin until 1976, forming the basis of the

US Army's Hydra 70 family. WAFARs create less smoke and have about 40 per cent more range

than FFARs because of design improvements and the fact that the new fin configuration

allows carriage of more propellant in the same overall motor length. The Navy's Mod 0

never entered production. The Army's Mod 1 was developed for the M151 and M261 warheads in

1982. The Navy/Air Force Mod 2 features safeguards against hazards of electromagnetic

radiation to ordnance (HERO) and entered service in 1988. The Mod 3 is a HERO modification

to the Mod 1. Mk 66 motors are white with black markings and a brown band.

Air Force 2.75-in Fuze, Warhead, and Motor Combinations

Warhead Type Motor Length Weight x7 x19

Mk 1 HE-Frag Mk 4/40 50.2 in 17.8 lb 124 lb 338 lb

Mk 5 HEAT Mk 4/40 47.8 in 18.0 lb 126 lb 342 lb

Mk 61 Practice Mk 4/40 49.3 in 17.9 lb 125 lb 340 lb

WDU-4A/A Flechette Mk 4/40 54.9 in 20.8 lb 146 lb 395 lb

M151 HE-Frag Mk 66 55.3 in 23.3 lb 163 lb 442 lb

M156 Smoke/WPractice Mk 66 55.3 in 23.2 lb 163 lb 441 lb

WTU-1/B Mk 66 55.4 in 23.1 lb 161 lb 438 lb

2.75-in Rocket Pods

All rocket pods are made of treated paper with a thin aluminum outer skin. They were

shipped with rockets already loaded, but warheads are attached in the field. They vary

little in external appearance, although later pods are longer so they can accept longer

warheads. All use 14-in suspension lug spacing. Although fuzes can be mixed within a pod,

warheads and motors can not. While FFAR rockets reach virtually to the back of the tube

(about 1.5 in from the rear edge of the pod), WAFAR pods have stops in the tubes that keep

them another 1.75 in forward.

The long ogive paper fairings of early pods has given way to progressively blunter

shapes. Nose fairings shatter on rocket impact. Expendable pods (with paper rocket tubes)

also have paper aft fairings which shatter to form a funnel that protects the aircraft

from rocket debris. Reusable pods (with metal rocket tubes) replace the aft fairings with

metal funnels to perform this function. Expendable pods can be jettisoned after use.

The pods can ripple-fire their rockets at a rate determined by the pod's

intervalometer. Air Force seven-tube pods are reusable and can be fired singly or fired

out in about three seconds, while the expendable 19-tube pods fire out in only about a

second. Mk 4/40 pods are FSN 17875 gloss white while the Mk 66 LAU-131 is FSN 34087 olive

drab. A Mk 66 rocket is inserted 55.1 in (140 cm) into its 59.9-in (152-cm) long launcher.

Air Force 2.75-in Rocket Pods

Pod Type Weight Diameter Nose Length Tail

LAU-3/A 19 Mk 4/40 71 lb 15.7 in 22.4 in 49.8 in 22.4 in

LAU-3A/A 76 lb 18.4 in 18.4 in

LAU-3B/A 76 lb

LAU-60/A 79 lb

LAU-68A/A 7 Mk 4/40 42 lb 9.9 in 7.2 in 59.9 in 3.9 in

LAU-68B/A 7 Mk 4/40 51 lb 8.7 in

LAU-131/A 7 Mk 66 78 lb

LAU-5003/A 19 Mk 66 78 lb 15.6 in 18.4 in 49.8 in 9.0 in

CRV7 System

The Bristol Aerospace, Ltd, Canadian rocket vehicle CRV7 system as tested by the

USAF is very similar to the LAU-3 launcher and Mk 66 rocket motor. The RLU-5002/B

(developed as C15) was primarily designed for use by helicopters and could also be surface

launched. These motors could only be fired from Canadian launchers because their firing

contacts were on the aft face of the nozzle. The Air Force evaluated the CRV7 on the A-7D

and A-10A in May 1987, probably using the CM151 rocket; a WTU-1/B dummy head mounted to

the C15 motor.

The RLU-5003/B (developed as C16) was designed to be compatible with the US Hydra 70

(Mk 66) launchers and evaluated with M151, M156, WDU-4A/A, and WTU-1/B warheads. However,

it produced more smoke and had higher dispersion than the Mk 66 during US ground tests in

October 1989. The motors are white with black markings; the fins were unpainted.

Miscellaneous Stores

Sub-Scale Training Bombs

Both of the most commonly carried training bombs were developed by the Navy and

adopted by the Air Force. The Mk 76 ' blue bomb ' is a streamlined 25-lb bomb, called

BDU-33 by the Air Force, that simulates the ballistics of a Mk 82 SE. The Mk 106 ' Beer

cans ' are painted orange, weigh 5 lb, and are shaped like a beer can with fins. Called by

their naval designation of for years, beginning about 1990 the Air Force gave a 10-lb

version the designation of BDU-48. The ballistics of these bombs most closely resemble a

retarded nuclear weapon. Both can be fitted with several types of spotting charges to aid

in scoring delivery accuracy and are mounted on modified multiple and triple ejector racks

(MER and TER), or in SUU-20 and SUU-21 dispensers.

Training Bomb Dispensers

The SUU-20 dispenser holds six practice bombs and four 2.75-in rockets (the latter

option is rarely used). The explosively ejected bombs are exposed on the bottom of the

dispenser and a mix of Mk 106s and BDU-33s is common. The SUU-21 was developed because

aircraft based in Europe overfly populated areas more frequently than those based

elsewhere. Its bombs are contained within enclosed bomb bays and ejected by springs. No

rocket capability exists with the SUU-21.

Air-to-Air Gunnery Targets

The 'aeronautical system/non-mission expendable, electromechanical, miscellaneous

model 15', or A/A37U-15 tow target system (TTS) is used by the F-100 and F-4 (from the

left outboard pylon). It is comprised of the 482-lb RMU-10 tow reel pod and 195-lb TDU-10

' Dart ' gunnery target. The 16-ft (4.8-m) long Dart was reeled out 2,300 ft (700 m)

behind the towing aircraft. Scoring was accomplished by counting bullet holes in the

recovered dart, with different aircraft using bullets dyed various colors.

The A/A37U-33 aerial gunnery target system (AGTS) replaced the TTS and is also used

by USAF F-4s. It is comprised of the 357-lb RMK-33 tow set and 107-lb TDK-36 target set,

which is towed 1,640 ft (500 m) behind the aircraft and deploys a Dart-sized tetraplane

target. Real-time acoustic scoring is used.

The 900-lb A/A37U-36 AGTS is designed for carriage on the F-4's left outboard

station, the F-15's centerline station, and the F-16's center wing stations. It consisted

of the RMK-35 reeling machine and TDK-39 target group, which is towed about 2,000 ft (610

m) behind the aircraft. A real-time RF scoring system is used.

Cargo Pods and Delivery Containers

The miscellaneous unit (MXU) -648 was a baggage pod converted from old BLU-1/27

firebomb shells. While a few had removable tailcones, most had a small door on the left

side of the pod. Virtually all USAF fighter and attack aircraft (as well as the AV-8B)

carried these on flights away from their home base, except for non-Pave Tack F-111s, which

used their large weapons bay instead.

Instrumentation Pods

The aircraft instrumentation sub-system (AIS) pods are used as part of the air

combat maneuvering instrumentation (ACMI) and related systems to allow real-time and

post-mission evaluation of training exercises. Use of this system was illustrated by the

movie 'Top Gun'. AIS pods resemble unfinned Sidewinder missiles with pitot tubes, and are

mounted to AIM-9 launchers. Each pod contains an air data sensor, weapons bus monitor,

transponder, and an inertial unit to aid in the simulation of weapons employment by

sensing actual aircraft flight performance. Information sensed by the pod, including

aircraft velocities, angular rates, and accelerations, is datalinked to ground stations

for use in recreating the mission for analysis and debriefing purposes. These systems

allow the battle to be viewed from any angle, even from the 'cockpits' of opposing


There are several versions of AIS pods, all 141 in (358 cm) long and 5 in (12.7 cm)

in diameter. Except for the T-11, which has a ram air scoop on its side, all ASQ pod

differences are internal. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Red Flag mission debriefing

system (RFMDS) permitted evaluation of surface-to-air and air-to-air engagements as well

as bombing accuracy, the latter capability being called no-drop bomb scoring (NDBS). Some

of these pods allow interface with aircraft electronic warfare systems (EWS) or have a

radar altimeter tied to a UHF uplink that permits the ACMI operator to transmit one of 12

prerecorded messages to the aircrew at the touch of a button. Other pods are compatible

with the high-accuracy multiple-object tracking system (HAMOTS) and the HAMOTS upgrade

system (HUS). Most of those compatible with AMRAAM launcher rails can be tied into the

aircraft's Mil Std 1760 databus for access to additional aircraft information. To this

end, they are fitted with a digital interface processing unit (DIPU). Other systems

include an inertial sensor assembly (ISA), a radar altimeter, a laser detector assembly

(LDA), or, in the case of pods used with the gulf range drone control upgrade system

(GRDCUS), a flight termination transponder (FTT).

In the early 1990s, work began on the global positioning system range applications

program (GPS/RAP). This resulted in several new AIS-type pods, including the extended-area

test system (EATS) and advanced range data system (ARDS) pods, which were combined as the

high dynamics instrumentation set (HDIS) and became known as HDIS/ARDS and HDIS/EATS pods.

These will be compatible with selected USAF aircraft.

The AKQ-T1 pod is mounted to the right-front Sparrow station of pre-MSIP F-15A/Bs

and F-4s. It accesses information about Sparrow launching and guidance information and

transmits it to a modified AERO-3B launcher rail, called a R2393. The TACTS pod, mounted

to the R2393 then down links this information to the ACMI.

AIS Pods

Official Name Vendor Name Weight Remarks

AN/ASQ T-11 P3 150 Ram air inlet, non-LRU design

AN/ASQ T-13 P4 120 LRU design

AN/ASQ T-17 P4A 122 RFMDS, including EW link & UHF uplink

GRDCUS T-17 with FTT

AN/ASQ T-20 P4AX RFMDS, including EW link only

AN/ASQ T-21 HAIS 123 HAMOTS compatible T-17


AN/ASQ T-25 P4AM 125 RFMDS, AMRAAM launcher compatible

AN/ASQ T-27 P4B 126 T-25 with DIPU, ISA and Radar altimeter

AN/ASQ T-27(V)-1 P4BX 126 T-13 upgraded with DIPU and ISA

AN/ASQ T-29 P4AW 122 T-25 with DIPU, ISA, and LDA

AN/AKQ T-1 75 Sparrow telemetry pod

R2393 51 Modified AERO-3B AIM-9 launcher

Spray Tanks

Several biological and chemical agent spray tanks have been developed, but none is

ever known to have been used operationally. Their basic designation grouping is

'aeronautical system/mission expendable, biological dissemination model', or A/B45Y, with

associated designations of external dispensing device (PAU) and miscellaneous tank unit

(TMU). Kept on hand as a hedge to ensure such a capability is maintained is the A/B45Y-3.

It weighs 570 lb and is used to dispense 1,340 lb of defoliant. When used as a pesticide

disseminator it is redesignated as PAU-7, and for dispensing the lethal nerve agent VX it

is called a TMU-28. It is worth noting that the warning given to Iraq during the Gulf War

was that use of chemical weapons would be met with nuclear, not chemical retaliation.

Flare and Sonobuoy Dispensers

The SUU-25C/A and E/A are LAU-10 5-in rocket pods modified to dispense 30-lb class

flares. They are 96 in (244 cm) long, 14 in (36 cm) in diameter and hold four rearward

ejection tubes that hold eight flares or target markers. Weight of the dispensers is 260

lb empty and 500 lb when loaded. The two dispensers have very minor internal differences.

Flares are 36 in (91 cm) long, 4.9 in (12 cm) in diameter and weigh 29 lb. The

LUU-2/B, LUU-2A/B, and LUU-2B/B all burn at about 2 million candlepower for 5 minutes.

They feature a timer to determine how many feet below the aircraft the flare ignites. The

differences between the flares are minor.

Target markers are the same size as flares and weigh 29 lb. They are fitted with two

timers. The first can be set to delay opening of the cruciform parachute from 5 to 30

seconds after release, while the second delays ignition of the marker another 10 to 30

seconds. The LUU-1/B burns with a red flame, while the LUU-5/B burns green, and the

LUU-6/B fuchsia.

Countermeasures Pods

Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods were introduced during the Vietnam War to

counter surface-to-air missiles (SAM). Over the years they have been refined and updated

to cope with new threats. Although some new pods look very similar to earlier ones, many

have completely new electronics. While noise jamming was used initially, newer pods use

deception techniques to make radars think an aircraft is in a slightly different location

than where it actually is. This makes radar-guided SAMs detonate just far enough away to

allow the aircraft to escape.

Most Air Force pods began as quick reaction capability (QRC) programs before being

assigned airborne, countermeasures, special purpose (ALQ) designations. All use 30-in

(76-cm) suspension lug spacing.

The Westinghouse ALQ-119 was developed under the QRC-522 program and has been

deployed in three basic configurations. All are 10 in (25 cm) wide and 15 in (38 cm) deep,

except for the front gondola, which is 21 in (53 cm) deep. Long pods are 143 in (363 cm)

long, weigh 575 lb and cover low, medium and high bands. They are the most common variant

and have been upgraded over the years through the AN/ALQ-119(V)-1, -4, -7, -10, -12, and

-15 versions. The QRC 80-01(V)-3 is a related pod with the same external configuration.

Medium pods cover medium and high bands, and have been upgraded through the

AN/ALQ-119(V)-3, -6, -9, -11, -14, and -17. They are 115 in (292 cm) long and weigh 400

lb. The QRC 80-01(V)-4 is a related pod with the same external configuration. Short pods

cover only the low band, are 105 in (267 cm) long and weigh 319 lb. They have been

upgraded through the AN/ALQ-119(V)-2, -5, -8, -13, and -16.

The Westinghouse ALQ-131 was developed under the QRC-559 program and has been

deployed in two basic configurations, both 111 in (282 cm) long. Deep pods are 24.5 in (62

cm) high and cover bands 3, 4, and 5. The Block I AN/ALQ-131(V)-4, 5, and 6 weigh 675 lb,

while the Block II AN/ALQ-131(V)-12 weighs 640 lb and the -14 680 lb. Shallow pods cover

only bands 4 and 5, are 20 in (51 cm) tall, and weigh about 475 lb. The Block I

AN/ALQ-131(V)-9 and 10 weigh 600 lb, while the Block II AN/ALQ-131(V)-13 weighs 540 lb and

the -15 580 lb. The Block I pods required manual mode selection, while the Block IIs are

more highly automated. At the beginning of Desert Storm, there were 130 of the former and

260 of the latter available.

The Raytheon ALQ-184 has been deployed in two basic configurations, first entering

service with F-4Gs in February 1987. Only 40 were available at the beginning of Desert

Storm, with orders for a further 590 pending, with options for a further 400. Because of

its lower drag profile, it is favored for use by drag-sensitive aircraft like the F-16.

Like the related ALQ-119, both configurations of this pod are 10 in (25 cm) wide and 15 in

(38 cm) deep, except for the front gondola, which is 22 in (56 cm) deep. Long pods are 156

in (396 cm) long, weigh 640 lb and cover bands 3, 4, and 5. They are the most common

variant and exist in the AN/ALQ-184(V)-1, 3, and 5 versions. Short pods cover only bands 4

and 5, are 116 in (295 cm) long and weigh about 475 lb. They exist in the AN/ALQ-184(V)-2,

4, and 6. They can be most easily distinguished from the ALQ-119s by their much longer


Adversary aircraft use a small number of threat simulator pods, all of which have a

10-in (25-cm) diameter. The ALQ-176 exists in two versions, both based on the Vietnam era

ALQ-71. The Band 3 AN/ALQ-176(V)-1 is 78 in (198 cm) long, weighs 260 lb and is based on

the AN/ALQ-71(V)-2. The Band 5 AN/ALQ-176(V)-2 is 102 in (259 cm) long, weighs 320 lb and

is based on the AN/ALQ-71(V)-3. The ALQ-188 is a derivative of the Navy's ALQ-167(V)-4 and

is 109 in (277 cm) long, weighing 291 lb.

Infra-red countermeasures (IRCM) pods employ sophisticated techniques to defeat

infra-red missiles. Although still used with large aircraft, fighters now rely on a

combination of expendable flares and maneuverability. Neither of the pods described here

are believed to have reached operational status. The 250-lb Northrop AN/AAQ-8 is based on

the shell of the ALQ-71 and attached to the fuel tanks of Combat Talon MC-130Es.


The M2A1 Bofors is a recoil-operated, clip-fed, air-cooled 40-mm cannon originally

designed as a AAA weapon. The $200,000 crew-served weapon weighs 1,050 lb and fires at a

rate of 120 shots per minute (spm) with a dispersion of 0.6 mils. It fired PGU-9 HEI

ammunition and two are used by the AC-130A, one by the AC-130H and U.

The US Army designed M60 7.62-mm machine gun uses a disintegrating link feed system

and is gas-operated. It fires 600 rpm with a muzzle velocity of 2,800 fps and an maximum

range of 3,500 ft (1,067 m). Four of the 25-lb M60s are used in the OV-10, while two are

used with the HH-60H. The H-3 also uses this gun.

The 265-lb General Electric M61A1 Vulcan 20-mm, six-barrel Gatling gun was developed

in the 1950s to fire M53 API, M56 HEI and M242 HEIT ammunition. The $128,000 weapon used a

linkless feed system and is externally powered from the aircraft hydraulic or electrical

system. The self-powered aircraft gun unit (GAU) -4, used in the SUU-23 gun pod, was

virtually identical except for being driven by gun gas. The 1,739-lb SUU-23 and earlier

1,702-lb SUU-16 (which used the M61) could be distinguished by the former's air inlet just

above and behind the muzzle, while the latter deployed a ram air turbine (RAT) from a

large hatch located towards the middle of the pod prior to being fired. This restricted

its use to a maximum of 350 kt IAS. Both pods had a capacity of 1,200 rounds, of which

about 60 were unusable. The SUU-16 was originally called the M12, while the SUU-23 was the

XM25. Both the M61 and GAU-4 fire at up to 6,000 rpm with a muzzle velocity of 3,400 fps

and a dispersion of 5 mils. At maximum rate of fire, prolonged bursts can generate nearly

4,000 lb of reverse thrust. Active aircraft equipped with internal with M61s include the

A-7D/E, B-52H, AC-130A/H (two), F-4E, F-14, F-15, F-16 and FA-18 (GAU-11). In all

probability, the F-22 will also be equipped with it. F-111s can carry the M61 in their

weapons bay, but have not since the 1970s. The F-4C/D/E were the only users of the SUU-16,

while the SUU-23 was also used by the F-4K/M.

One M102 105-mm howitzer was used by the AC-130H and U. The 1,450-lb, crew-served

weapon could fire three to five HE, WP or TP shots per minute with a dispersion of only

0.3 mils.

The General Electric GAU-2 7.62-mm six-barrel Gatling gun is a scaled-down version

of the M61 which weighs 67 lb. It uses either linkless or belted feed systems and is

externally powered from the aircraft electrical system. It fires up to 6,000 rpm with a

muzzle velocity of 2,850 fps. Aircraft equipped with the GAU-2 have included the A-37 and

HH-53. The AC-130A uses it as part of MXU-470 gun module. The GAU-2 forms the basis for

the 325-lb SUU-11 gunpod (sometimes identified by its Army designation M18). The SUU-11A/A

was dc powered, while the SUU-11B/A could use either ac or dc. Both pods had a capacity of

1,500 rounds which could be fired at 3,000 or 6,000 rpm. The SUU-11 was used by the A-37,

AH-1J/T/W, AT-38B, and OV-10.

The General Electric $336,000 GAU-12 ' Equalizer ' 25-mm, five-barrel Gatling gun

was developed from the M61 for use with the AV-8B and AC-130U (one). It uses a linkless

feed system from the 300-round magazine in the Harrier's right fuselage pod to the 275-lb

gun in the left pod, which is powered from engine bleed air. It fires up to 4,200 rpm, but

normally at 3,600 rpm of PGU-20 API and PGU-22 HEIT ammunition with a muzzle velocity of

3,600 fps and a dispersion of 3.6 mils.

The GAU-13 ' Pave Claw ' 30-mm four-barrel Gatling gun is the basis of the $544,000

gun pod unit (GPU) -5 anti-tank cannon pod. It uses a closed loop feed and storage system

and is pneumatically driven. It fires at 2,400 rpm with a muzzle velocity of 3,200 fps and

a dispersion of 4.5 mils. When loaded with 353 rounds of PGU-13 HEI and PGU-14 API

ammunition, the gun pod weighs 1,865 lb. Several aircraft, including the F-4D/E and A-7D,

have been evaluated with the GPU-5, and F-16As of the 174th TFW (NY ANG) used it during

Desert Storm.


The Teledyne Ryan BQM-34 Firebee family included

Firebee Versions

KDA pre-1959

Q2 pre-1959

BGM-34A/B 1971-75

BQM-34A 1959-93 Firebee

MQM-34D 1959-93 Firebee

Model 147 A 1962

Model 147 B 1964-65

Model 147 C 1965

Model 147 D 1965

Model 147 E 1965-66

Model 147 F 1966

Model 147 G 1965-67

Model 147 H 1967-71

Model 147 J 1966-67

Model 147 N 1966

Model 147 NC 1972

Model 147 NP 1967

Model 147 NQ 1968

Model 147 NRE 1967

Model 147 NX 1966-67

Model 147 S/SA 1968

Model 147 SB 1968-69

Model 147 SC/TV 1972

Model 147 SD 1974/75

Model 147 SDL 1972

Model 147 SK 1969-70

Model 147 SRE 1968-69

BQM-34E/F 1965-77 Firebee II

AQM-34G Model 147 NA/NC 1968-71 Compass Bin/Combat Angel

AQM-34H Compass Bin/Combat Angel

AQM-34J Compass Bin/Combat Angel

AQM-34K Compass Bin

AQM-34L Model 147 SC 1969-73 Compass Bin/Buffalo Hunter

AQM-34M Compass Bin/Buffalo Hunter

AQM-34M (Ex Rng) Compass Bin/Buffalo Hunter

AQM-34P 1969-70 Compass Bin

AQM-34Q Model 147 TE 1970-73 Compass Bin

AQM-34R 1973-75 Compass Bin/Combat Dawn

Firebee Production

BQM-34A 59-02256/02330 75

BQM-34 59-05024/05029 6

BQM-34A 60-02248/02487 240

BQM-34A 60-06813/06912 100 USN

BQM-34A 61-02780/02914 135

BQM-34A 62-04626/04844 219

BQM-34A 63-08889/09064 176

BQM-34A 64-14870/15049 180

BQM-34A 64-17683/17730 48

BQM-34A 65-10690/10822 133

BQM-34A 66-02665/02854 190

BQM-34A 66-08155/08254 100

MQM-34A 66-08308/08348 41

BQM-34A 66-13341/13523 183

BQM-34 66-13571/13610 40

MQM-34D 67-14910/14914 5

BQM-34 67-20000/20552 553

BQM-34 67-21501/21700 200

MQM-34D 67-22492/22516 25

BQM-34A 68-08287/08931 645

BQM-34A 68-10370/10377 8

BQM-34A 69-05933/06187 255

BQM-34A 69-05933/06187 255

BQM-34F 69-07765/07780 16

BQM-34A 70-01057/01258 202

BQM-34 70-01633/01946 314

BQM-34F 70-02496/02523 28

Model 147 71-01167/01366 200 cnx

BQM-34A 71-00500/00789 290

BQM-34F 71-01809/01838 30

BQM-34A 72-00450/00569 120

BQM-34A 72-01066/01110 45

BQM-34F 72-01542/01566 25

BQM-34A 73-00115/00226 112

BQM-34A 74-00667/00760 94

BQM-34A 74-00761/00774 14 cnx

BQM-34A 74-00793/00821 29 USA

AQM-34V 74-02135/02150 16

BQM-34S 75-00126/00209 84

BQM-34A/S 76-00555/00804 250

BQM-34A 76-02107/02118 12

BQM-34S 77-00380/00463 84

BQM-34A 78-02448/02483 36

BQM-34A 79-01727/01848 122

BQM-34S 79-01849/01915 64

BQM-34A 83-00514/00568 55

BQM-34A 86-00850/00899 50

BQM-34A 91-23105/23191 87 AF/USN

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