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AIM-7 Sparrow Short- and medium-range air-to-air missile

Discussion in 'Air Warfare' started by Zarvan, May 15, 2018.

  1. Zarvan

    Zarvan ELITE MEMBER

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    The AIM-7 Sparrow was one of the first air-to-air missiles with a beyond visual range capability, and has been a long-serving mainstay of Western Bloc air arms



    Country of origin AIM-7A AIM-7B AIM-7C AIM-7D AIM-7E
    Country of origin United States
    Entered service 1956 - 1958 1959 1963
    Missile
    Missile length 3.74 m 3.85 m 3.66 m 3.66 m 3.66 m
    Missile diameter 0.2 m 0.2 m 0.2 m 0.2 m 0.2 m
    Fin span 0.94 m 1 m 1 m 1 m 1 m
    Missile weight 143 kg 176 kg 172 kg 197 kg 197 kg
    Warhead weight 20 kg 20 kg 30 kg 30 kg 30 kg
    Warhead type HE-FRAG Continuous rod
    Range of fire 10 km 7 km 11 km 30 km 30 km
    Guidance Radio beam riding Active radar Semi-active radar


    The Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow was one of the first operational air-to-air missiles with a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capability, and has been a staple fighter weapon in the US inventory for more than 50 years. Variants of the Sparrow remain in service with air arms across the world, and its development has continued well into the 21st century.

    The effort that would ultimately produce one of the largest and most complex weapons of its class and era began as a much simpler project in 1947, when the US Navy assigned the Sperry Corporation the task of developing a guided version of the 5" High Velocity Aerial Rocket (HVAR), initially designated the KAS-1. This task quickly proved insurmountable with 1940s technology, as the 5" (127 mm) diameter of the HVAR was too narrow to allow the required beam-riding guidance system. A larger fuselage was required, and as the KAS-1 missile grew, so too did the program, which soon involved the Douglas Aircraft Company. Douglas deemed that in order to achieve the required guidance and performance, a much larger 8" (203 mm) diameter was required; as no operational HVAR variant like this existed, the program effectively failed the key objective of converting an existing munition, necessitating the development of a totally original one if the Navy still wanted a weapon of this type. The designation of the missile seemed to expand as well, being changed to AAM-2 in September of that year, then eventually AAM-N-2 in 1948.

    The ballistic shape of the AAM-N-2 was finalized in 1947, and flight tests using mockups of this missile took place later that year, using F-3D Skyknight aircraft to carry them aloft. Development of the AAM-N-2 proved more problematic than anticipated though, and it wasn't until 1952 that the propulsion and guidance systems were mature enough for the first successful interception. Two additional years of development ensued, with initial operational service for AAM-N-2s with propulsion, guidance, and live warheads beginning in 1954, though this was really just an extension of the missile's development; they were still carried by Skyknights, which were not the intended ultimate recipients of the AAM-N-2.

    Full operational service was finally attained in 1956, and the AAM-N-2 --- now named the "Sparrow" --- was made also compatible with the F-3H-2 Demon and F-7U Cutlass. Though in the long term, this was an unfortunate selection of launch platforms; the Skyknight was being phased-out, while the F-3H Demon and F-7U Cutlass were some of the Navy's most spectacular and infamous failures. The guidance and performance of the AAM-N-2 Sparrow also proved disappointing, so production was limited to only 2 000 missiles. It was a curiously bleak beginning for what would eventually be one of the longest-lived aviation weapons in history.

    As it happens, another Sparrow variant had been under testing since 1950, which employed radar guidance, though the development and testing of this weapon had been long and painful as well. Initially designated the XAAM-N-2a Sparrow II (the AAM-N-2 was re-designated "Sparrow I" in response), then later as the AAM-N-3 Sparrow II, this missile was one of the first to employ active radar guidance, theoretically making it a "fire-and-forget" type weapon. Douglas finally convinced the Navy to test the Sparrow II in 1955, suggesting it could be used in the upcoming F-5D Skylancer, but they ultimately failed to get the missile's AN/APQ-64 seeker head to work. Frustrated with the Sparrow II's incessant failures, Douglas themselves terminated the program, though Canadair bought the program off Douglas that year, hoping to fix its problems and ultimately use it in their upcoming CF-105 Arrow interceptor. This effort also failed spectacularly, and not only did the AAM-N-3 Sparrow II program come crashing-down by the end of 1959, but both the F-5D Skylancer and CF-105 Arrow programs had been terminated as well. A proposed nuclear-armed version of the Sparrow, dubbed the "Sparrow X", was also cancelled in 1958. It seemed as though the Sparrow was cursed, but the program had one more ace up their sleeve.

    Raytheon had also been working on a radar-guided Sparrow variant starting in 1951, this model being designated the AAM-N-6 Sparrow III. This model used a much simpler semi-active radar guidance system, which proved satisfactory for the US Navy, and went into service in 1958. The United States Air Force (USAF) also acquired a variant of this missile in 1959, with improved guidance and a new liquid fuel engine, as the AAM-N-6a Sparrow III. Though the Air Force re-designated it; the AAM-N-6a was now the AIM-101, which armed the new F-110 Spectre fighter (a variant of the F-4 Phantom II, making this another Navy system the USAF renamed). Not to be outdone by the USAF, the Navy in response developed an even more formidable Sparrow variant, the AAM-N-6b, which boasted a cutting-edge solid fuel motor with a much greater thrust output.

    The AAM-N-6b entered service in 1963, though by then it was no longer referred-to by that name. Under the new tri-service designation system, the AAM-N-6, AAM-N-6a/AIM-101, and AAM-N-6b were all re-designated as the AIM-7C, AIM-7D, and AIM-7E (the F-110 was once again an F-4 Phantom II as well, becoming the F-4C). The AAM-N-2 Sparrow I and XAAM-N-2a Sparrow II were also re-designated as the AIM-7A and AIM-7B; a rather curious decision, as the Sparrow I was already retired, and the Sparrow II never went into production.

    For simplicity's sake, all Sparrow variants referred-to from here onward will be referred-to by their tri-service designations, as these are the designations most people are familiar with today.

    All Sparrow missiles share the same general layout, with a very long and narrow fuselage, a pointed nosecone, and two sets of four delta-shaped fins in parallel 90-degree crucifix patterns. The forward fins are located halfway down the length of the missile, while the aft fins are located on the tail, and are smaller than the forward fins on most variants.

    The AIM-7A had a distinctive appearance compared to the other missiles in the series, due to its finely-tapered forward fuselage ending in a sharply-pointed nose, and large and steeply-swept fore and aft fins, with the aft fins being only slightly smaller than the forward fins. The tips of all the fins were also sharply-pointed, which would not be the case with the fins used on all subsequent Sparrow models.

    The AIM-7B introduced a long and cylindrical fuselage, a more ogive-shaped nosecone, and cropped forward delta-shaped fins. Nonetheless, the fuselage was visibly much longer than that of any other Sparrow, and the distance between the forward and aft fins is conspicuously longer as well. This was also the last Sparrow with steeply-swept forward fins.

    The AIM-7C introduced a shorter fuselage than the AIM-7B (though still longer than the AIM-7A), a more sharply-pointed nosecone, and less steeply-swept forward fins. This has ever since been the definitive architecture of the Sparrow missile, and the exteriors of all subsequent models are nearly indistinguishable from the AIM-7C. To put it another way, this is the appearance that people familiar with the Sparrow visualize when they think of the Sparrow.

    The fuselage and fins of the Sparrow are entirely metallic in construction, although it is unclear which alloys are used. From the AIM-7C onwards, the nosecone is made of a ceramic material, due to its radar transparency. The rocket motors powering the Sparrow series likely differ in material from one model to the next, although information on this matter does not appear to have been published.

    Typical of 1950s air-to-air missiles, the AIM-7A employed radio beam riding guidance. The pilot used this system to directly steer the missile into the target via radio waves emitted from the aircraft's own radar. The missile detects these radio waves via a rear-facing receiver antenna array, and automatically maneuvers itself to stay aligned with the center of the beam. Thus, as long as the pilot can keep the crosshairs on top of the target, the missile would hypothetically fly right into it. However, this limited the pilot's options to a short-range engagement against a single target, using a single missile, and success largely depended on the target co-operating by holding still long enough.

    The AIM-7B instead used active radar guidance. The nosecone of the missile contained a complex radar array with both transmitter and receiver antennae, allowing the missile to illuminate and pursue its own target without any input from the launch platform once the missile was airborne. Or rather it would have, if the AIM-7B's guidance system ever worked.

    From the AIM-7C onward, every Sparrow variant has been radar guided. Specifically, nearly all of these missiles use semi-active radar guidance, in which the aircraft launching the missile illuminates the target with radio waves from an on-board radar, and the missile homes-in on the radio wave reflection via a receiver antenna in its nose. As long as the target remains illuminated and within the seeker head's field of view, the missile will home in on it.

    All of these guidance methods share similar advantages and limitations. The radio waves emitted by fire control radars allow all of these guidance systems to be used in all but the worst weather conditions (i.e., thick clouds or intense rainfall), and radar guidance also allows for a very long detection range, and by extension, a very long engagement range, as well as head-on attacks (which infrared guidance technology did not yet allow for).

    However, all of these guidance methods are also vulnerable to radio interference, and electronic countermeasures. Notably, radar-guided missiles of this era couldn't distinguish between an aircraft and a chaff cloud, while radar jamming would effectively blind them. Chaff and jamming also had similar effects against radio beam-riding missiles. Another problem was that radar warning receiver systems could detect active radar emissions from far enough away that the Sparrow couldn't actually be used effectively against enemy aircraft at BVR range (more on that below).

    Another issue with the Sparrow's guidance system is that it requires the target to be cued for a minimum of 5 seconds until a lock can be obtained, and it required 10-20 seconds to reach a target within visual range, or 20-40 seconds to reach a target at BVR distances. This means that for a period of between 15 and 45 seconds, the aircraft launching a Sparrow must fly continuously in the same direction. This is a problem, because US military experience from the Vietnam War resulted in what was called the "Nine Second Rule"; namely, that during an engagement, a fighter must never fly continuously in the same direction for more than nine seconds, or it will be a sitting duck. While the AIM-9 Sidewinder also required about 5 seconds to obtain a lock, it was a "fire-and-forget" type weapon that didn't require the launch aircraft to continuously face its target until the missile reached it.

    Unlike missiles that propel themselves directly off the pylon carrying them, the Sparrow is instead dropped, and launches moments later. Aircraft designers have taken advantage of this attribute in order to integrate "semi-recessed bays" --- form-fitting grooves in the belly containing a hardpoint to anchor the missile onto --- into the bellies of fighters especially intended to carry the Sparrow. Semi-recessed bays for Sparrows can be seen in the bellies of F-4 Phantom IIs, F-14 Tomcats, F-15 Eagles, and other aircraft. However, there was also a penalty to carrying and launching a missile in this manner; it required gravity to release and launch safely, so a fighter in an inverted orientation can't launch a Sparrow.

    All Sparrow variants are powered by rocket motors, with most examples employing a solid fuel motor. The AIM-7A was powered by an Aerojet 1.8KS7800 motor that employs a binary propellant, with nitric acid and amine. This motor is rated for 7 800 lbs of thrust for 1.8 seconds (hence, the designation "1.8KS7800"), though the complete burn time is actually 2.5 seconds. It also carried-over to the AIM-7B and AIM-7C.

    The AIM-7D was the only Sparrow powered by a liquid fuel rocket motor, in the form of the Thiokol LR44-RM-2 (which is also referred to as the Guardian I). This motor used storable liquid fuel, meaning that it is kept on board the missile, rather than fueling it prior to a mission. The LR44-RM-2 rocket produced more thrust, which actually exceeded the amount of force the Sparrow was designed to withstand. This necessitated that the AIM-7D's electronics had to be reinforced to withstand the increased G forces.

    The AIM-7E returned to a solid fuel rocket motor, with the Rocketdyne Mk.38. Using Flexadyne CTPB (Carboxyl-Terminated Polybutadiene) propellant, which nearly doubled the Sparrow's flight speed, and tripled its range. Later production AIM-7Es were instead fitted with a Rocketdyne Mk.52 motor, which essentially had the same performance as the Mk.38.

    The AIM-7A Sparrow was armed with a 20 kg High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead, which also carried-over to the AIM-7B. Subsequent Sparrow variants didn't use this warhead, as more a more potent munition was developed for the AIM-7C. This missile's Mk.38 warhead is a 30 kg continuous rod munition. A continuous rod warhead operates in a manner similar to an HE-FRAG warhead, but instead of wrapping the bursting charge with shrapnel, its sides are lined with a metal ring. This ring is forged and cut in such a way that the bursting charge causes it to forcibly expand and unravel outward into an ever-widening circular wire, ultimately expanding to a diameter of dozens of meters before it finally fractures. The ring thus acts like a giant guillotine, slicing deep into an offending aircraft's fuselage, and sometimes shearing it completely in half. The Mk.38 also carried-over to the AIM-7D and AIM-7E.

    The Sparrow was launched in anger for the first time by the US military during the Vietnam War, and as most air-to-air combat operations were performed by the F-4 Phantom II (the only operational US aircraft at this time which employed the Sparrow), it was effectively the primary US weapon for use against Vietnamese People's Air Force (VPAF) aircraft. However, the performance of the Sparrow in this conflict was a disaster. This matter must also be addressed, as it is a central issue in the viability of this missile.

    "Promise and Reality: Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-To-Air Combat", a 2005 Air War College essay written by Lt. Col. Patrick Higby, revealed that only 22% of all air-to-air kills made during the Vietnam War from 1965-69 were achieved with radar-guided missiles, and 41% from 1969-1973. In both periods, infrared-homing missiles accounted for 44% of all kills, while gunfire produced 34% in the first timeframe, and 15% in the second timeframe. It is worth noting that essentially all radar-guided air-to-air missiles used in this period were Sparrows (7 kills were achieved with radar-guided AIM-4 Falcons), and nearly all infrared-homing missiles were AIM-9 Sidewinders(only 3 kills were made by IR-homing AIM-4s). This also meant that the Sparrow also wasn't cost-effective, as it cost about $50 000 at the time, compared to the Sidewinder at about $5 000. Moreover, as the Sparrow is significantly larger (and thus has more drag when carried) than the Sidewinder, and weighs nearly a quarter-ton, it also has a strong negative effect on the flying characteristics of the aircraft carrying it (again, without much performance to show for it).

    The apparent success of the Sparrow in the 1969-73 period of the Vietnam War also camouflages several significant failures. As noted in the 1968 USAF study "An Analysis Of Air-to-Air Missile Capability in Southeast Asia" by Robert D. Goartz, there was one period during this time in which the US Navy launched 50 successive Sparrow missiles without achieving any kills. In fact, during a period of about two months in 1969, more than 200 Sparrow launches produced only a single kill, resulting in a Probability of Kill (pK) ratio of only 0.05%. The pK ratio of the Sidewinder had been 20%, the AIM-4 Falcon and Soviet R-3 --- largely written-off by historians as failure --- managed 10%, while gunfire produced a 50% pK ratio. As noted in G2Mil's list of "Lost Battles of the Vietnam War", five F-4s were shot-down by MiG-21s (which were armed only with guns and short-range infrared-homing missiles) on June 27th 1969, a day in which no US aircraft shot-down any VPAF aircraft. Moreover, as noted by Dr. Itsvan Toperczer in "MiG-21 Units of the Vietnam War", the VPAF MiG-21s alone actually had more kills against US aircraft in 1973 than all US kills combined against all types of VPAF aircraft for the same period.

    These poor results are often attributed to the climate and weather of Southeast Asia, rough handling by ordnance crews, overly-restrictive rules of engagement that severely restricted its use in the BVR regime, but neither claim stands up to scrutiny. The atmospheric conditions and rough handling of the missiles was also experienced by the AIM-9 Sidewinder, which was substantially more reliable and effective. It was thus most likely poor design and/or manufacturing defects that caused most of the Sparrow's malfunctions during the Vietnam War.

    The rules of engagement were also unavoidable, because US fighters were far more likely to shoot a friendly or neutral aircraft than an enemy one, due to the skies being choked with friendly aircraft, while enemy aircraft were a rarity (the VPAF, for example, never sortied more than 11 fighters in any 24-hour period, while the USAF alone had more aircraft in the air over Vietnam every day than the combined total of aircraft that the VPAF had ever owned by the end of the war). The only way to identify an aircraft at BVR ranges is using a friend or foe identification (IFF) system, which sends a coded radio transmission called a "Squawk" to interrogate transponders in other aircraft, in order to identify their type and affiliation. There are numerous problems with this system, because IFF's only response to the user is a "yes or no" answer to whether friendly aircraft are airborne somewhere in the region --- it cannot Squawk enemy transponders, and in practice doesn't even work on civilian or neutral military aircraft either. And since the skies were often crowded with friendly aircraft, with a tiny number of enemy aircraft mixed-in somewhere, knowing only that "some of the aircraft in the air are friendly" was hopelessly inadequate information. Moreover, IFF has never worked at all, as openly admitted by General William Creech (formerly the chief of the USAF's Tactical Air Command) in testimony before Congress in 1981. Possibly the most damning of all is that less than 15% of all detections of hostile aircraft made by the US military during the Vietnam War were made by radar, and only 2.8% of all acquisitions were made by the radar carried by the US aircraft themselves.

    Similarly, as the fuel of the Sparrow is expended within the first few kilometers of flight (which causes it to quickly lose airspeed after this period through drag), and because radar illumination becomes increasingly less detectable over distance, using the Sparrow within visual range resulted in its *best* performance. Thus, had the Sparrow been used as envisioned during the Vietnam War, it is almost inevitable that the final outcome would have a substantially lower pK ratio against VPAF aircraft, and many US and VNAF aircraft lost to friendly fire. Moreover, it has often been implied that no BVR launches of the Sparrow were attempted during the Vietnam War, but as noted in "Promise and Reality", 33 were attempted in the 1965-68 phase of the war, followed by 28 in 1969-73; out of these 61 BVR launches, only 2 kills were achieved (a 0.03% pK ratio), further underscoring that the Sparrow is in fact more effective at visual ranges than at beyond visual ranges.

    Moreover, the poor performance of the Sparrow is also worth contrasting against the backdrop of the contemporary 1967 Six Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In the former, over 80% of all Israel Defense Force (IDF) confirmed kills were with gunfire, and all others were with infrared-homing missiles; only a single radar-guided missile launch was attempted (with a Super R.350 missile), which missed its target. At a time in which the US military was struggling to fight almost exclusively with missiles, and were only just beginning to back-fit an internal gun into the F-4 Phantom II, the most total and crushing aerial victory in history was achieved almost entirely using gunfire.

    The Sparrow's performance in the Yom Kippur War is also important to note, as it performed no better in this conflict either, despite the IDF's F-4 pilots being overwhelmingly better trained and versed in their weaponry (and in accurate intelligence on enemy aircraft and weapons) than their US counterparts. In this conflict, 5 kills were achieved using Sparrows, only 1 of which was a BVR launch (out of 5 attempted BVR launches). More importantly, these were only 5 kills out of a combined total of 261. By contrast, 33% of all kills (85 kills) in this war were attained with gunfire, and 66% (171 kills) were attained with infrared-homing missiles. More than 200 of these kills were also achieved by Mirage IIIs and Neshers, aircraft which had no BVR capability (it had been deleted from the IDF Mirage IIIs, and the Nesher never carried BVR air-to-air missiles).

    The Sparrow's success rate in the 1983 Battle of the Bekaa Valley is also included in Lt. Col. Patrick Higby's paper, though since the model used by the IDF was the later AIM-7F, it is outside the scope of this article, save for the results being broadly similar to the Sparrow's previous combat record. The Sparrow was also used extensively by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran-Iraq War, though no reliable records exist on its performance in that conflict.

    Ultimately, more than 69 000 AIM-7 Sparrows of all types have been manufactured, not including specialized derivatives like the AGM-45 Shrike, or foreign-developed versions like the Aspide.

    The AIM-7 Sparrow has been operated by Australia, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Pakistan, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK, and the US, though this includes all US-built models. It is unclear exactly which nations used the AIM-7C, D, and E. The AIM-7A was used only by the US Navy, and it was retired after a half-decade of service.

    Interestingly, one nation that the US government hadn't intended almost became an operator of the Sparrow; the Soviet Union. They managed to acquire an AIM-7 Sparrow in 1968, by means still shrouded in secrecy, and reverse-engineered it. This was undertaken by the Vympel design bureau, and the resulting missile was designated the K-25. The Soviet air force had seriously considered adopting the K-25 for use on their own aircraft, though extensive testing and evaluation quickly revealed the same problems that the US military was experiencing with the Sparrow in Southeast Asia. It was therefore decided to abandon the K-25 program, and develop an original air-to-air missile design based on experience gathered in creating and testing this "Pseudo-Sparrow".

    At present, several nations still operate the Sparrow, though is unclear exactly which of the AIM-7C~E models are still in service. Production of the AIM-7E was quickly superseded in 1972 by the AIM-7F, which was the first model with solid state electronics. Between their dated subcomponents and their advanced age (these particular Sparrow variants are now more than 40 years old), it is doubtful that any models remaining in active service would function correctly if launched.



    Variants



    AIM-7A: Original production model, with a short range and radio beam-riding guidance. As this missile proved problematic in service, no further orders were made beyond the original delivery of 2 000 missiles, and it was quickly withdrawn from service.

    AIM-7B: This was basically an AIM-7A modified for use by supersonic aircraft; namely the F-5D Skylancer and CF-105 Arrow. Since neither of these aircraft ever entered production or service, neither did the AIM-7B.

    AIM-7C: A much-improved version of the AIM-7A, the AIM-7C boasted a more powerful continuous rod warhead, an extended range, a supersonic launch capability, and the first semi-active radar guidance ever used in a Sparrow. As it was quickly superseded in development by the AIM-7D, only 2 000 examples of this missile were produced.

    AIM-7D: This model introduced an improved guidance system, Electronic Counter-Countermeasure (ECCM) features and a new storable liquid fuel engine, though that modification increased the effective range and altitude of the Sparrow. The "Delta" Sparrow was the first reasonable commercial success of the series, with 7 500 built.

    ATM-7D: Inert training version of the AIM-7D.

    AIM-7E: This model introduced an improved solid fuel rocket motor, which doubled the Sparrow's speed and tripled its range. The "Echo" series were the most-produced model of the Sparrow, with some 25 000 built.

    AIM-7E-2: Developed in response to combat experience in the Vietnam War, the range of this modified AIM-7E was reduced and its fins were cropped, in order to increase its maneuverability.

    AIM-7E-3: Ongoing quality control problems led to the development of this variant, which was basically just an AIM-7E-2 with additional reliability engineering.

    AIM-7E-4: This was an AIM-7E-3 with an improved detector, for use on aircraft with significantly more powerful targeting radar. This allowed the Sparrow to be integrated into the Grumman F-14A Tomcat.

    RIM-7E Sea Sparrow: Essentially a standard AIM-7E Sparrow fired from a box launcher, the RIM-7E Sea Sparrow is a naval surface-to-air missile developed for use by US Navy vessels.

    XAAM-N-9 Sparrow X: This was a proposed nuclear version of the Sparrow, armed with a W42 warhead. It never left the design phase.

    Aspide: Italian-made Sparrow variant. The initial model was comparable to the AIM-7E, while later models introduced active radar guidance. It is used both as an air-to-air missile and as a naval SAM system --- and unlike the Sparrow, a land-based SAM variant exists as well, in the form of the Spada.

    HQ-6: This Chinese SAM is derived from the Aspide, making it a de-facto Sparrow variant, though it looks nothing like a Sparrow on its exterior.

    Skyflash: British-made variant of the Sparrow, with improved guidance, propulsion, and ECCM capabilities. It was primarily employed by the Spey Phantom, the Tornado ADV, and the SwedishAJ-37 Viggen.

    Brazo: Based on the AIM-7E, the Brazo was an anti-radiation missile developed by Hughes for the US Navy. It was a weapon far ahead of its time, designed to destroy enemy fighter aircraft (the immensely powerful radar of the MiG-25 was the main inspiration for this missile) by using their own radar against them, following the radio wave emissions back to the radome, and exploding right in the face of the enemy pilot. Ultimately, the Navy decided that enemy fighters simply wouldn't radiate often enough to make an air-to-air anti-radiation missile viable, and canceled the Brazo --- a decision astonishingly similar to their dismissal of the similar RayWinder missile in the 1950s (developed from the AIM-9 Sidewinder). Hughes found no other sponsors for the Brazo, and the program was terminated.

    Sparoair: These were a series of air-launched sounding rockets based on the design of the AIM-7 Sparrow. The design was unsuccessful, and did not enter service.

    K-25: The most unlikely variant of all, the K-25 was a reverse-engineered Sparrow missile manufactured by Vympel in the Soviet Union. The Soviet air force was apparently much less forgiving of the early Sparrow's poor performance, as indicated by the fact that the K-25 never reached production, and was quickly replaced in development by a more advanced design, that would become the R-23 (Western reporting name AA-7 or Apex).



    Similar weapons



    R.530: This French air-to-air missile is similar in performance to the AIM-7C Sparrow, though its external design is more evocative of Soviet medium-range air-to-air missiles, and the R.530 is also unusual in that both radar-guided and infrared-guided versions were produced. However, the R.530 is also one of the most unsuccessful air-to-air missiles ever fielded, with performance even worse than that of the similarly-expensive Sparrow. No combat launches of the R.530 have ever produced a kill. R.530s were used by the Mirage III, Mirage F1, and F-8E(FN) Crusader.

    Super 530: Introduced in 1972, this is a dramatically modernized and reconfigured R.530, which is almost unrecognizable from its predecessor due to its pointed nose and completely different fin configuration. The overall performance of the Super 530 was greatly increased, though unlike the R.530, only radar-guided versions were produced. The Super R.530 is used by the Mirage F1 andMirage 2000.

    R-23: This is the most similar Eastern Bloc missile to the AIM-7 Sparrow, and closely resembles it in both appearance and performance. Western reporting names for this missile are AA-7 or Apex. Though adopted in 1974 for use on the MiG-23, the R-23 was superseded by the following R-27, after less than a decade of service. Like the Sparrow, the R-23 was used extensively in battle, but with little success. Though unlike the Sparrow, both radar-guided (R-23R) and infrared-guided (R-23T) versions of this missile were produced.

    R-27: Code-named AA-10 or Alamo by West, the Vympel R-27 was created based on experience in developing and testing the K-25 (Soviet copy of the Sparrow). The performance of the R-27 is universally considered superior to that of the earlier R-23 and preceding AIM-7 Sparrow models, though the R-27 combat results have been similarly lackluster. As with the R-23, both radar-guided and infrared-homing versions of this missile were fielded.

    AIM-7 Sparrow
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  2. Zarvan

    Zarvan ELITE MEMBER

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    Location:
    Pakistan
    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]

    AIM-7 Sparrow
    Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile

    [​IMG]
    http://www.military-today.com/missiles/aim_7_sparrow.htm