Air-to-Air missiles

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AIM-9M Sidewinder
Seeker: All-aspect infrared
Speed: Mach 2+
Length: 9 ft 7 in
Weight: 198 lb
Warhead: 22 lb blast fragmentation
Range: 10 miles
Diameter: 5 in
Drag factor: 30
The AIM-9M is a third-generation model of the Sidewinder. The all-aspect capability allows the seeker to acquire targets from any angle, although it still works better from the rear hemisphere. It outperforms the -9P in all areas, including maneuverability, seeker sensitivity, target tracking, lethality and susceptibility to countermeasures. It also has a low-smoke motor which reduces launch and ingress detection. Of the 1,000 Sidewinders fired in combat since the missile's introduction, 308 destroyed their targets.

AIM-9P Sidewinder
Seeker: Rear-aspect infrared
Speed: Mach 2+
Length: 9 ft 11 in
Weight: 178 lb
Warhead: 22 lb blast fragmentation
Range: 10 miles
Diameter: 5 in
Drag factor: 30

The Sidewinder is a battle-proven, close-range missile that has been in the Air Force arsenal for 30+ years. The AIM-9P is the best of the second-generation Sidewinders, but is outdated compared with the -9M and the -9R /due in service by 1994/. The AIM-9P can only acquire its target from rear hemisphere, where it has an unobstructed view of the target's engines. Still, under good launch conditions, the -9P is a capable weapon.


Seeker: Active radar
Speed: Mach 4+
Length: 11 ft 9 in
Weight: 335 lb
Warhead: 40 lb high explosive
Range: 25 miles
Diameter: 7 in
Drag factor: 36

The AMRAAM /Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile/ was designed to replace the disappointing AIM-7 Sparrow. It is guided by an active pulse-doppler radar and propelled by a high-speed, reduced smoke rocket. The AMRAAM can acquire its targets beyond visual range /BVR/ and be launched at any aspect angle and speed. The AIM-120 is untested in actual combat.

Contractor: Raytheon Co.
Power Plant: Hercules MK-58 solid-propellant rocket motor
Thrust: Classified
Speed: Classified
Range: Classified
Length: 12 feet (3.64 meters)
Diameter: 8 inches (0.20 meters)
Wingspan: 3 feet, 4 inches (1 meter)
Warhead: Annular blast fragmentation warhead
Launch Weight: Approximately 500 pounds
(225 kg)
Guidance System: Raytheon semiactive on either continuous wave or pulsed Doppler radar energy
Date Deployed: 1976
Unit Cost: Approximately $125,000
Inventory: Classified

The AIM-7 Sparrow is a radar-guided, air-to-air missile with a high-explosive warhead. The versatile Sparrow has all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack high-performance aircraft and missiles from any direction. It is a widely deployed missile used by U.S. and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces.
Features:The missile has five major sections: radome, radar guidance system, warhead, flight control (autopilot plus hydraulic controlsystem), and solid-propellant rocket motor. It has a cylindrical body with four wings at mid-body and four tail fins. Although external dimensions of the Sparrow remained relatively unchanged from model to model, the internal components of newer missiles represent major improvements with vastly increased capabilities.
Background:The AIM-7F joined the Air Force inventory in 1976 as the primary medium-range, air-to-air missile for the F-15 Eagle.
The AIM-7M, the only current operational version, entered service in 1982. It has improved reliability and performance over earlier models at low altitudes and in electronic countermeasures environments. It also has a significantly more lethal warhead. The latest software version of the AIM-7M is the H-Buildwhich has been produced since 1987 and incorporates additional improvements in guidance. The F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters carry the AIM-7M Sparrow. U.S. and NATO navies operate a surface-to-air version of this missile called the RIM-7F/M Sea Sparrow.
In the Persian Gulf war, the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow proved to be a potent air-to-air weapon used by Air Force fighter pilots. Twenty-two Iraqi fixed-wing aircraft and three Iraqi helicopters were downed by radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow missiles.

Guidance Command, inertial and Active radar or imaging IR
Propellant Solid propellant
Fuze Active Radar
Range 50 km / 28 miles
Speed Mach 4
Length 10 ft
Weight 243 lbs
Warhead 12 kg HE blast fragmentation

The Matra BAe Dynamics Mica is an innovative lightweight missile that can both intercept incoming missiles and fire at multiple targets. The Mica is an advanced medium-range missile that is the French counterpart to the more capable American AMRAAM missile. Variants include active radar and infra-red homing, providing a unique ability to select target-engagement options for both short and medium-range intercepts. The 4A active anti-air seeker was developed by Dassault Electronique within the framework of a European cooperation, both for the Mica air-to-air missile and, in a slightly different version, for Eurosam's Aster surface-to-air missile.

Magic R.550
Major operational capabilities : All-directions missile
Builder : Matra
In-service in the French Air Force : 1988
Propellant Solid propellant
Propulsion time : 2.2 s
Range 8 miles
Speed Mach 2.7 / 500 m/s in addition to carrier’s speed
Length / Diameter : 2.75 m / 0.16 m
Weight 196 lbs / 89 kg
Warhead HE blast fragmentation
Payload : 12.5 kg (fragmentation)
Guidance all-aspect infrared
Fuze radio frequency (RF) proximity

The largest single competitor for Sidewinder in Western Europe, the Matra Magic R.550 has better design and performance requirements. It can be fired at any speed (no minimum), meaning that it is a prime candidate for the arming of attack helicopters. Magic is slightly larger in diameter than Sidewinder, but the launch installation components in the carrying aircraft were wisely made interchangeable. The tail fins of the R.550 are free to rotate around the rocket's nozzle, providing of spin-stabilization. The warhead weighs 12.5 kg, and can be delivered at ranges of more than 6.2 miles.

Manafacturer British Aerospace
Date Deployed 1998 ?
Range 8 nm ( 300 m to 15 km )
Speed Mach 3+
Propulsion One dual-thrust solid-propellant rocket motor
Guidance strapdown inertial and Imaging Infrared
Warhead 22.05 lb ( 10 kg ) blast/fragmentation
Launch Weight 220.5 lb ( 100 kg )
Length 8 ft, 11.5 in ( 2.73 m )
Diameter 6.6 in ( 0.168 m )
Fin Span 17.7 inches ( 45 cm )

The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) is a state of the art, highly manoeuvrable and combat effective weapon. Many combat aircraft are currently equipped with radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM for long range engagements and the AIM-9 Sidewinder for close combat. The two missiles are an ill-matched pair, since nearly four decades separates their origins. construction. While AMRAAM is highly effective at ranges between 5-50 kilometers, its usefulness diminishes rapidly at a shorter ranges.

A rival to the American-built AIM-9X Sidewinder, ASRAAM is equipped with a Raytheon-Hughes infrared seeker which is the baseline for the company's AIM-9X seeker. The company developed an infrared seeker featuring a unique sapphire dome as part of an engineering-manufacturing-development and production effort valued at $215 million. This ASRAAM seeker played a part the company's competitive win of the AIM-9X missile contract that could lead to some $5 billion in business over the next 20 years.
ASRAAM was initiated in the 1980's by Germany and the United Kingdom, but the two countries were unable to agree on the details of the joint-venture. Germany left the ASRAAM project in the early 1990s, and in the spring of 1995 initiated an improved version of the Sidewinder, the IRIS-T (Infra Red Imagery Sidewinder-Tail controlled) built by Bodensee Geraetetechnik GmBH (BGT). This decision was largely motivated by new insights into the performance of the Russian AA- 11 Archer missile carried by the MiG-29s which Germany inherited during reunification. The Luftwaffe concluded that the AA-11's performance had been seriously underestimated -- the AA-11 turned out to be superior to the Sidewinder AIM-9L in all respects: homing head field of view, acquisition range, maneuverability, ease of designation, and target lock-on. The Germans concluded that the ASRAAM demonstrated a serious lack of agility compared to the Russian Archer.

The British Government has spent 636 million pounds (about one billion dollars) since 1992 developing and industrializing ASRAAM. The first ASRAAM was delivered to the RAF [Royal Air Force] in late 1998. It will be used to equip the RAF's Tornado F3 and Harrier GR-7 before the missile becomes the British Eurofighter standard short-range weapon.

In January 1995 British Aerospace Dynamics, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England, was awarded a letter contract with a ceiling amount of $10,933,154 for foreign comparative testing [FCT] of the ASRAAM Missile. The purpose of the testing is to gather data to determine if the missile meets AIM-9X operational requirements. Work was performed in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England (50%), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (25%), and China Lake, California (25%), and was completed by June 1996. The tests focused on the risk areas of the ASRAAM: focal plane array effectiveness, seeker signal processing, warhead effectiveness, rocket motor testing, and kinematic/guidance ability to support the lethality requirements of the AIM-9X. After several modifications to the scope of the FCT, the program assessed four ground-to-air sorties, 19 air-to-air captive carry sorties, four programmed missile launches, eight static warhead tests, and four rocket motor case tests. The resulting assessment was that the ASRAAM (as is) could not meet the AIM-9X operational requirements in high off-boresight angle performance, infrared counter-countermeasures robustness, lethality, and interoperability. Subsequently, Hughes and BAe proposed an improved "P3I ASRAAM" using thrust-vectoring to provide increased agility and to carry a heavier warhead.
In February 1998 the British-French Matra British Aerospace consortium [formed in 1996] won a multi-million dollar contract to supply the ASRAAM missile to the Australian Air Force to be used on the F/A-18 Hornet. marking the first export sale. The first missiles should be delivered between 1999 and the year 2000.

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