|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
|Weight||1,300 pounds (590 kg)|
|Length||15 feet (4.6 m)|
|Diameter||13.5 inches (340 mm)|
|Engine||Aerojet MK 27 dual-thrust solid-fuel rocket|
|Wingspan||42.5 inches (1,080 mm)|
|56 miles (90 km)|
|Flight ceiling||80,000 feet (24,000 m)|
|Semi-active radar homing (SARH) with terminal infrared guidance|
The AIM-97 Seekbat is a missile developed by the United States of America.
In the early to mid-1970s the United States was highly concerned by the perceived capabilities of the MiG-25 Foxbat, an aircraft which was known to be capable of speeds in excess of Mach 3 and which carried long range air-to-air missiles. It was widely claimed that the Foxbat was a new generation "super-fighter", capable of comfortably outclassing any US or allied aircraft. The US initiated the F-15 Eagle program largely in response to this threat. To equip the F-15 the Air Force initiated development of the AIM-82 short range missile and the AIM-97 Seekbat. The former was a dogfighting missile intended as a replacement for the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the latter was to be a new high-altitude long-range missile designed specifically to shoot down the MiG-25 - hence the name Seekbat, the bat referring to the MiG-25's "Foxbat" NATO reporting name.
The Seekbat was based on the AGM-78 Standard ARM. It had a larger propulsion unit and used Semi-active radar homing with an infrared seeker for terminal guidance of the missile. The operational ceiling was 80,000 feet (24,000 m).
Test firings began in late 1972, but the Seekbat program did not make a great deal of progress and was cancelled in 1976. During the testing of the Seekbat, CIM-10 Bomarc surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were utilized in the target drone role; the Bomarc missile was used to simulate the high flying Foxbat. The Bomarc would prove to be a poor choice for target drone, due in part to the requirement to operate it in a manner outside its intended operational envelope.
In sustained high altitude flight, the Bomarc would roll onto its back and dive when the engines became oxygen starved. This flight characteristic was previously unknown to program officers. When the Bomarc rolled on its back, the wings shielded the engines, causing the Seekbat to unlock from the target during terminal guidance. Instead, the Seekbat test missile IR seeker would chase the sun once the Bomarc went "cold." Because this was misunderstood by engineers, continued efforts to develop the missile guidance systems were undertaken without any effort to correct the drone issues that were causing the targeting malfunctions. Each test missile was hand built and very expensive to produce, causing the program to suffer cost overruns. This coupled with new knowledge of the MiG-25s capabilities and role led to the cancellation of the program because the missile's cost did not justify its procurement.