AGM-65 Maverick

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The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-surface tactical missile (AGM) designed for close air support. The most widely produced precision-guided missile in the Western world,[1] it is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities. Originally designed and built by Hughes Missile Systems, development of the AGM-65 spanned from 1966 to 1972, after which it entered service with the United States Air Force in August 1972. Since then, it has been exported to more than 30 countries and is certified on 25 aircraft.[2] The Maverick served during the Vietnam, Yom Kippur, Iran–Iraq and Gulf Wars, along with other smaller conflicts, destroying enemy forces and installations with varying degrees of success.

Since its introduction into service, numerous Maverick versions had been designed and produced, using electro-optical, laser, charge-coupled device and infra-red guidance systems. The AGM-65 has two types of warhead: one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating. The Maverick shares the same configuration as Hughes's AIM-4 Falcon and AIM-54 Phoenix, and measures more than Template:Convert in length and Template:Convert in diameter.

Development

The Maverick's development history began in 1965, when the United States Air Force (USAF) began a program to develop a replacement to the AGM-12 Bullpup.[3] With a range of Template:Convert, the radio-guided Bullpup was introduced in 1959 and was considered a "silver bullet" by operators. However, the launch aircraft was required to fly straight towards the target during the missile's flight instead of performing evasive manoeuvres, thus risking the crew.[3]

From 1966 to 1968, Hughes Missile Systems and Rockwell competed for the contract to build the new missile. Each were allocated $3 million for preliminary design and engineering work of the Maverick in 1966.[4] In 1968, Hughes emerged with the $95 million contract for further development and testing of the missile; at the same time, contract options called for 17,000 missiles to be procured.[4] Hughes conducted a smooth development of the AGM-65 Maverick, culminating in the first, and successful, firing of the AGM-65 on a tank at Air Force Missile Development Center at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on 18 December 1969.[4] In July 1971, the USAF and Hughes signed a $69.9 million contract for 2,000 missiles,[4] the first of which was delivered in 1972.[3]

Although early operational results were favorable, military planners predicted that the Maverick would fare less successfully in the hazy conditions of Central Europe, where it would have been used against Warsaw Pact forces.[5] As such, development of the AGM-65B began in 1975 before it was delivered during the late 1970s. When production of the AGM-65A/B was ended in 1978, more than 35,000 missiles had been built.[6]

More versions of the Maverick appeared, among which was the laser-guided AGM-65C/E. Development of the AGM-65C started in 1978 by Rockwell, who built a number of development missiles for the USAF.[6][5] Due to high cost, the version was not procured by the USAF, and instead entered service with the United States Marine Corps (USMC) as the AGM-65E.[6][5] Another major development was the AGM-65D, which employed an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker and thus is all-weather operable.[6] The five-year development period of the AGM-65D started in 1977 and ended with the first delivery to the USAF in October 1983.[6] The version received initial operating capability in February 1986.[7]

The AGM-65F is a hybrid Maverick combining the AGM-65D's IIR seeker and warhead and propulsion components of the AGM-65E.[6] Deployed by the United States Navy (USN), the AGM-65F is optimized for maritime strike roles.[6] The first AGM-65F launch from the P-3C took place in 1989, and in 1994, the USN awarded Unisys a contract to integrate the version with the P-3C.[1][8] Meanwhile, Hughes produced the AGM-65G, which essentially has the same guidance system as the D, with some software modifications that track larger targets, coupled with a shaped-charge warhead.[7]

In the mid-1990s to early 2000s, there were several ideas of enhancing the Maverick's potential. Among them was the stillborn plan to incorporate the Mavericks active millimeter wave radars, which can determine the exact shape of a target.[9] Another study called "Longhorn Project"[9] was conducted by Hughes, and later Raytheon following the absorption of Hughes into Raytheon, looked a Maverick version equipped with turbojet engines instead of rocket motors. The "Maverick ER", as it was dubbed, would have a "significant increase in range" compared to the Maverick's current range of Template:Convert.[10] The proposal was abandoned, but if the Maverick ER had entered production, it would have replaced the AGM-119B Penguin carried on the MH-60R.[10] Template:Imageframe

The most modern versions of the Maverick are the AGM-65H/K, which were in production as of 2007.[7] The AGM-65H was developed by coupling the AGM-65B with a charge-coupled device (CCD) seeker optimized for desert operations and which has three times the range of the original TV-sensor;[6][10] a parallel USN program aimed at rebuilding AGM-65Fs with newer CCD seekers resulted in the AGM-65J.[6] The AGM-65K, meanwhile, was developed by replacing the AGM-65G's IR guidance system with an electro-optical television guidance system.[7]

Design

The Maverick has a modular design construction, allowing a different combination of the guidance package and warhead to be attached to the rocket motor section to produce a different weapon.[7] It has long-chord delta wings and a cylindrical body, reminiscent of the AIM-4 Falcon and the AIM-54 Phoenix.[11]

Different models of the AGM-65 have used electro-optical, laser, and infra-red guidance systems. The AGM-65 has two types of warheads: one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating. The latter is most effective against large, hard targets. The propulsion system for both types is a solid-fuel rocket motor behind the warhead.[7]

The Maverick missile is unable to lock onto targets on its own; it has to be given input by the pilot or Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) after which it follows the path to the target autonomously, allowing the WSO to fire and forget. In an A-10 Thunderbolt, for example, the video fed from the seeker head is relayed to a screen in the cockpit, where the pilot can check the locked target of the missile before launch. A crosshair on the head-up display is shifted by the pilot to set the approximate target while the missile will then automatically recognize and lock on to the target. Once the missile is launched, it requires no further assistance from the launch vehicle and tracks its target automatically. This fire-and-forget property is not shared by the E version that uses semi-active laser homing.[6]

Variants

Laser AGM-65 Maverick on a USN F/A-18C, 2004
  • Maverick A is the basic model and uses an electro-optical television guidance system. No longer in U.S. service.
  • Maverick B is similar to the A model, although the B model added optical zooming to lock onto small or distant targets.
  • Maverick C was to be a laser-guided variant for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). It was canceled before production, however its requirement was later met by the Maverick E.
  • Maverick D replaced the electro-optical guidance with an imaging infrared system which doubled the practical firing distance and allowed for its use at night and during bad weather. A reduced smoke rocket engine was also introduced in this model. It achieved its initial operation capability in 1983.
  • Maverick E uses a laser designator guidance system optimized for fortified installations and heavier penetrating blast-fragmentation warhead (Template:Convert vs. Template:Convert in older models). It achieved IOC in 1985 and was used mainly by USMC aviation.
  • Maverick F, designed specially for US Navy, it uses a modified Maverick D infrared guidance system optimized for tracking ships fitted onto a Maverick-E body and warhead.
  • Maverick G model essentially has the same guidance system as the D with some software modification that enables the pilot to track larger targets. The G model's major difference is its heavier penetrator warhead taken from the Maverick E, compared to the D model's shaped-charge warhead. It completed tests in 1988.
  • Maverick H model is an AGM-65B/D missile upgraded with a new charge-coupled device (CCD) seeker better suited for the desert environment.
  • Maverick J model is a Navy AGM-65F missile upgraded with the new CCD seeker. However, this conversion is not confirmed.
  • Maverick K model is an AGM-65G upgraded with the CCD seeker; at least 1,200, but possibly up to 2,500 AGM-65G rounds are planned for conversion to AGM-65K standard.[6]
  • Maverick L model incorporates a laser-guided seeker.[12]

Deployment

The Maverick was declared operational on 30 August 1972 with the F-4D/Es and A-7s initially cleared for the type;[4] the missile made its combat debut four months later with the USAF in the Vietnam War.[13] During the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, the Israelis used Mavericks to destroy and disable enemy vehicles.[5] Deployment of early versions of the Mavericks in these two wars were successful due to the favorable atmospheric conditions that suited the electro-optical TV seeker.[5] Ninety-nine missiles were fired during the two wars, eighty-four of which were successful.[14][N 1]

In June 1975, during a border confrontation, Iranian troops fired twelve Mavericks, all successful, at Iraqi tanks.[16] Five years later, during Operation Morvarid as part of the Iran–Iraq War, Iranian F-4s used Mavericks to sink three OSA II missile boats and four P-6 combat ships.[17]

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In early 1991, the US-led Coalition executed Operation Desert Storm during which Mavericks played a crucial role in the ousting of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Employed by F-15E Strike Eagles, F-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers, F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolts, but used mainly by the last two, more than 5,000 Mavericks were deployed to attack armored targets.[7][18] The most-used variant by the USAF was the IIR-guided AGM-65D.[18] The reported hit rate by USAF Mavericks was 80–90%, while for the USMC it was 60%.[6] The Maverick was used again in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq War, during which 918 were fired.[8]

The first time the Maverick were fired from a Lockheed P-3 Orion at a hostile vessel was when the USN and coalition units came to the aid of Libyan rebels to engage the Libyan Coast Guard vessel Vittoria in the port of Misrata, Libya, during the late evening of 28 March 2011. Vittoria was engaged and fired upon by a USN P-3C Maritime Patrol aircraft with AGM-65 Maverick missiles.[19] Iranian AGM-65 Maverick missiles have been used in various operations such as Fatholmobin whereas Iranian AH-1J's fired 11 Mavericks.[20][21][22]

Launch platforms

US Navy F/A-18C Hornet armed with AGM-65 Maverick
An IRIAF F-4E Phantom II carrying four AGM-65 Mavericks

United States

LAU-117 Maverick launchers have been used on USN, USAF, and USMC aircraft:

Export

The Maverick has been exported to at least 30 countries:

See also

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Related lists

References

Notes
  1. Laur and Llanso claim that 18 Mavericks were launched for 13 hits during the Vietnam War from January to February 1973, while the Israelis launched 50 Mavericks during the Yom Kippur War for 42 hits and five deliberate misses.[15]
Citations
Bibliography

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External links

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