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.
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
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.
|Air-to-air guided missile
|Hercules MK-58 solid-propellant rocket motor
|3 ft 4 in
|Raytheon semiactive on either continuous wave
or pulsed Doppler radar energy
AIM-7 and F-4 Phantom II
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