Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow

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. The AIM/RIM-7 series is a semi active, air-to-air, boost-glide missile, designed to be either rail or ejection launched. Semi active, continuous wave, homing radar, and hydraulically-operated control surfaces direct and stabilize the missile on a proportional navigational course to the target. Propulsion for the missile is provided by a solid propellant rocket motor.

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Specifications

Primary Function: Air-to-air guided missile
Power Plant: Hercules MK-58 solid-propellant rocket motor
Thrust: Classified
Speed: Classified
Range: 30 nautical miles
Length: 12 feet
Wingspan: 3 feet 4 inches
Warhead: Annular blast fragmentation warhead, 88lbs high explosive for AIM-9H
Guidance System: Raytheon semi actiffve on either continuous wave or puleed Doppler radar
Aircraft Platforms: Navy: F-14 and FA-18; Air Force: F-4, F-15, F6; Marine Corps: F-4, and FA-18
Unit Cost: Approximately: $125,000.
Manufactured by: Raytheon Corporation

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History

The Sparrow is a widely deployed missile used by U.S. and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces. 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. The Sparrow is limited by the requirement that the aircraft it is fired from must continue to paint the target with radar, limiting that aircraft to straight and level flight.

The AIM-7M/P Sparrow Missile is employed during air-to-air combat missions by Navy F-14, Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18, and Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft. The AIM-7 (series) is used primarily to neutralize the threat of high performance enemy aircraft. It is a supersonic, medium-range missile with Defensive Counter Countermeasure capabilities, which includes Electronic Protection from Electronic Attack. It guides on radio frequency energy, processing radar signals received via its rear signal receiver from the launch platform’s radar system and reflected target energy received directly from the target. The AIM-7M/P is controlled in flight by four movable delta platform wings. Missile stability is provided by four fixed delta fins which are located in-line with the forward wings. Missile propulsion is provided by a dual-thrust, solid propellant rocket motor. An active radio frequency fuse detonates the warhead when the missile is within lethal range of the target.

The missile has five major sections: radome, radar guidance system, warhead, flight control (autopilot plus hydraulic control system), 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.

Sparrow is a supersonic, medium range, aerial-intercept missile, which guides on RF energy. The missile processes radar signals received directly from the launch platform’s radar via its rear signal receiver, and also processes RF energy reflected from the target received by its own internal radar receiver (front signal). Sparrow is controlled in flight by four movable delta platform wings. Missile stability is provided by four fixed delta fins which are located in line with the forward wings. Missile propulsion is provided by a dual-thrust, solid propellant rocket motor. An active RF fuse detonates the warhead when the missile is within lethal range of the target. To increase performance in either application, air-to-air or surface-to-air, Sparrow contains switching circuits that automatically program missile operation for optimum performance in the appropriate environment. The Sparrow Weapon System consists of the radar-guided missile; the support equipment consisting of test, handling, and training equipment, tools and reusable containers; and the aircraft or ship’s equipment required to launch the missile.

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