Raytheon AIM-7E Sparrow - Pima ASM, Tucson, AZ
Posted by: kb7ywl
N 32° 08.375 W 110° 51.951
12S E 512651 N 3555915
Quick Description: Raytheon AIM-7E Sparrow s/n unknown
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 3/25/2012 7:42:16 PM
Waymark Code: WME2GQ
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy and US Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile from the late 1950s until the 1990s. It remains in service, although it is being phased out in aviation applications in favor of the more advanced AIM-120 AMRAAM. The Self-Defence Forces of Japan also employ the Sparrow missile, though it is being phased out and replaced by the Mitsubishi AAM-4. NATO pilots use the brevity code Fox One in radio communication to signal launch of a Semi-Active Radar Homing Missile such as the Sparrow.
The Sparrow was used as the basis for a surface-to-air missile, the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, which is used by the Navy for air defense of its ships.
The Sparrow emerged from a late-1940s US Navy program to develop a guided rocket weapon for air-to-air use. In 1947 the Navy contracted Sperry to build a beam riding version of a standard 5in/127mm HVAR, the standard unguided aerial rocket, under Project Hotshot. The weapon was initially dubbed KAS-1, then AAM-2, and, from 1948 on, AAM-N-2. The airframe was developed by Douglas Aircraft Company. The diameter of the HVAR proved to be inadequate for the electronics, leading Douglas to expand the missile's airframe to 8in/203mm diameter. The prototype weapon began unpowered flight-tests in 1947, and made its first aerial interception in 1952.
After a protracted development cycle the initial AAM-N-2 Sparrow entered limited operational service in 1954 with specially modified Skyknights all weather carrier night fighters. And in 1956, they were carried by the F3H-2M Demon and F7U Cutlass fighter aircraft. Compared to the modern versions, the Sparrow I was more streamlined and featured a bullet-shaped airframe with a long pointed nose.
Sparrow I was a limited and rather primitive weapon. The limitations of beam-riding guidance (which was slaved to an optical sight on single seater fighters and a radar with night fighters) restricted the missile to attacks against targets flying a straight course and made it essentially useless against a maneuvering target. Only about 2,000 rounds were produced to this standard.
As early as 1950 Douglas examined equipping the Sparrow with an active radar seeker, initially known as XAAM-N-2a Sparrow II, the original retroactively becoming Sparrow I. In 1952 it was given the new code AAM-N-3. The active radar made the Sparrow II a "fire and forget" weapon, allowing several to be fired at separate targets at the same time.
By 1955 Douglas proposed going ahead with development, intending it to be the primary weapon for the F5D Skylancer interceptor. It was later selected, with some controversy, to be the primary weapon for the Canadian Avro Arrow supersonic interceptor, along with the new Astra fire-control system. For Canadian use and as a second source for US missiles, Canadair was selected to build the missiles in Quebec.
However, the small size of the missile forebody and the K-band AN/APQ-64-radar limited performance, so it was never able to work in testing. After considerable development and test firings in the US and Canada, Douglas abandoned development in 1956. Canadair continued development until the Arrow was cancelled in 1958.
A subvariant of the Sparrow I armed with the same nuclear warhead as the MB-1 Genie was proposed in 1958, but was cancelled shortly thereafter.
Concurrently with the development of the Sparrow I, in 1951, Raytheon began work on the semi-active radar homing version of Sparrow family of missiles, the AAM-N-6 Sparrow III. The first of these weapons entered US Navy service in 1958.
The AAM-N-6a was similar to the -6, but used a new Thiokol liquid-fuel rocket engine for improved performance. It also included changes to the guidance electronics to make it effective at higher closing speeds. The -6a was also selected to arm the USAF's F-110A Spectre (F-4 Phantom II) fighters in 1962, known to them as the AIM-101. It entered production in 1959, with 7500 being built.
Another upgrade reverted to a Rocketdyne solid-fuel motor for the AAM-N-6b, which started production in 1963. The new motor significantly increased maximum range to 22mi/35km for head-on attacks.
During this year the Navy and USAF agreed on standardized naming conventions for their missiles. The Sparrows became the AIM-7 series. The original Sparrow I and aborted Sparrow II became the AIM-7A and AIM-7B, despite both being out of service. The -6, -6a and -6B became the AIM-7C, AIM-7D and AIM-7E respectively.
25,000 AIM-7Es were produced, and saw extensive use during the Vietnam War, where its performance was generally considered disappointing. The mixed results were a combination of reliability problems (exacerbated by the tropical climate), limited pilot training in fighter-to-fighter combat, and restrictive rules of engagement that generally prohibited BVR (beyond visual range) engagements. The Pk (kill probability) of the AIM-7E was less than 10%; US fighter pilots shot down 55 aircraft using the Sparrow.
In 1969 an improved version, the E-2, was introduced with clipped wings and various changes to the fuzing. Considered a "dogfight Sparrow", the AIM-7E-2 was intended to be used at shorter ranges where the missile was still travelling at high speeds, and in the head-on aspect, making it much more useful in the visual limitations imposed on the engagements. Even so, its kill rate was only 13% in actual combat in 1972, leading to a practice of ripple-firing all four at once in hopes of increasing kill probability. Its worst tendency was that of detonating prematurely, approximately a thousand feet in front of the launching aircraft, but it also had many motor failures, erratic flights, and fuzing problems. An E-3 version included additional changes to the fuzing, and an E-4 featured a modified seeker for use with the F-14 Tomcat.
Improved versions of the AIM-7 were developed in the 1970s in an attempt to address the weapon's limitations. The AIM-7F, which entered service in 1976, had a dual-stage rocket motor for longer range, solid-state electronics for greatly improved reliability, and a larger warhead. Even this version had room for improvement, leading British Aerospace and the Italian firm Selenia to develop advanced versions of Sparrow with better performance and improved electronics as the Skyflash and Selenia Aspide, respectively.
The most common version of the Sparrow today, the AIM-7M, entered service in 1982 and featured a new inverse monopulse seeker (matching the capabilities of Skyflash), active radar fuse, digital controls, improved ECM resistance, and better low-altitude performance. It was used to good advantage in the 1991 Gulf War, where it scored many USAF air-to-air kills; however its kill probability, overall, is still less than 40%.
The AIM-7P is similar in most ways to the M versions, and was primarily an upgrade program for existing M-series missiles. The main changes were to the software, improving low-level performance. A follow-on Block II upgrade added a new rear receiver allowing the missile to receive mid-course correction from the launching aircraft. Plans initially called for all M versions to be upgraded, but currently Ps are being issued as required to replace Ms lost or removed from the inventory.
The final version of the missile was to have been the AIM-7R, which added an infrared seeker to an otherwise unchanged AIM-7P Block II. A general wind-down of the budget led to it being cancelled in 1997.
Sparrow is now being phased out with the availability of the active-radar AIM-120 AMRAAM, but is likely to remain in service for a number of years.
Type of Aircraft: (make/model): Raytheon AIM-7E Sparrow
Tail Number: (S/N): s/n unknown
Construction:: original aircraft
Location (park, airport, museum, etc.): Located in hangar 1N at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
inside / outside: outside
Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E Valencia Rd
Tucson, Arizona 85756
Open 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily
Last admittance at 4:00 PM
$12.50-Pima Co Residents
FREE---Children 6 & under
Photo of aircraft (required - will be interesting to see if the aircraft is ever repainted or progress if being restored)
Photo of serial number (required unless there is not one or it is a replica)
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