AIM-95 Agile

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U.S. Navy photo of an AIM-95 missile.

The AIM-95 Agile was an air-to-air missile developed by the United States of America. It was developed by the US Navy to equip the F-14 Tomcat, replacing the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Around the same time, the US Air Force was designing the AIM-82 to equip their F-15 Eagle, and later dropped their efforts to join the Agile program. In the end, newer versions of Sidewinder would close the performance gap so much that the Agile program was cancelled.

Overview[edit]

The AIM-95 was developed at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center as an advanced replacement for the AIM-9 Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile. The Agile was equipped with an infrared seeker for fire and forget operation. The seeker head had a high off-boresight lock-on capability capable of being targeted by a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS), allowing it to be fired at targets which were not directly ahead—thus making it far easier to achieve a firing position. The solid-propellant rocket used thrust vectoring for control giving it superior turning capability over the Sidewinder.

The US Air Force was developing the AIM-82 missile to equip the F-15 Eagle at the same time. Since both missiles were more or less identical in their role, it was decided to abandon the AIM-82 in favour of the Agile.

AIMVAL[edit]

VX-5 F-4 Phantom with prototype Agile seekers

The AIM-95A was developed to a point where flight tests were carried out including test firing at China Lake and inclusion in the ACEVAL/AIMVAL Joint Test & Evaluation conducted with both the F-14 and F-15 at Nellis AFB in 1975-78. AIMVAL analysis results indicating limited utility of higher high boresight capability and high cost resulted in opinion that it was no longer regarded as affordable and the project was cancelled in 1975. Instead an improved version of the Sidewinder was developed for use by both the Air Force and Navy. Although this was intended to be an interim solution, in fact the AIM-9 continues in service today.

The Soviet Union did embark on development of an advanced high boresight SRM with thrust vectoring and subsequently fielded the AA-11/R-73 Archer on the MiG-29 in 1985. NATO learned about their performance due to the German reunification and efforts began to match or exceed the R-73's performance with the IRIS-T, AIM-9X and MICA IR programs.

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