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This article is about the missile. For other uses, see Alarm (disambiguation).
ALARM under the wing of a RAF Tornado GR4
ALARM under the wing of a RAF Tornado GR4
Type Air-to-surface anti-radar missile
Service history
In service 1990
Used by See operators
Wars Gulf War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, Libyan Civil War
Production history
Designer BAe Dynamics
Designed 1982
Manufacturer BAe Dynamics (1982–1999)
MBDA (UK) Ltd (since 1999)
Unit cost undisclosed
Produced 1986–present
Weight 268 kilograms (591 lb)
Length 4.24 metres (13.9 ft)
Diameter 230 millimetres (9.1 in)
Warhead Proximity fused high-explosive
Laser Proximity

Engine Bayern Chemie two stage solid-fuel rocket motors
Wingspan 0.73 metres (2.4 ft)
Propellant solid-propellant
93 kilometres (58 mi)
Speed 2,455 kilometres per hour (1,525 mph) (supersonic)
Pre-programmed/passive radar seeker
Tornado GR.4, Tornado F3

ALARM (Air Launched Anti-Radiation Missile) was a British anti-radiation missile designed primarily to destroy enemy radars for the purpose of Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD). It was used by the RAF and the Royal Saudi Air Force,[2] and retired at the end of 2013.[3]


The Ministry of Defence received bids for a new anti-radiation missile in late 1982; British Aerospace Dynamics offered ALARM while Texas Instruments teamed with Lucas Aerospace offered its HARM missile.[4] Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine announced the selection of ALARM on 29 July 1983. The initial order was 750 missiles for the RAF.[5] The selection process was controversial; the battle between the contractors was bitter, the Ministry of Defence favoured ALARM to retain UK industrial capabilities while the Treasury favoured the cheaper and proven HARM.[4][6]

In early 1986, BAe recognised that Royal Ordnance was having difficulties delivering the missile's motor, named Nuthatch, and began to consider alternatives. Royal Ordnance's solution to the required burn-loiter-burn characteristic of the engine was complex.[7] In July 1987, BAe, by then the owner of Royal Ordnance, replaced the Nuthatch motor with a lower risk motor designed by Bayern-Chemie.[8] BAe's GB£200 million contract for the missile was renegotiated with the price increased to GB£400 million and delivery pushed back from 1988 to 1990.[9]

The ALARM missile was officially retired at the end of 2013.[3]


ALARM is a fire-and-forget system, with an added loiter capability. In loiter mode, ALARM will, when launched, climb to an altitude of 13 km. If the target radar shuts down, the missile will deploy a parachute and descend slowly until the radar lights up. The missile will then fire a secondary motor to attack the target.[10]

Combat use[edit]

ALARM has been used in the following conflicts:


Map with ALARM operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

 Saudi Arabia
 United Kingdom


  • Primary Function: Suppression of Enemy Air Defence
  • Contractor: MBDA
  • Power Plant: Bayern Chemie two stage solid propellant rocket motors
  • Length: 4.24 m
  • Diameter: 23 cm
  • Wing Span: 73 cm
  • Launch Weight: 268 kg
  • Speed: 2455 km/h (supersonic)
  • Warhead: Proximity fused high-explosive
  • Range: 93 km
  • Fuse: Laser Proximity
  • Guidance system: Pre-programmed/passive radar seeker
  • Unit Cost: undisclosed
  • Date Deployed: 1990
  • User: UK (RAF)
    • Tornado GR.4
    • Tornado F3: fitted in time for 2003 Gulf War, receiving designation Tornado EF3
    • Weapon has been "fit checked" on other RAF aircraft, such as the Jaguar. Due to its relatively large weight it is not suited to the entire RAF fleet.
    • Also was expected to be usable on the Eurofighter Typhoon, but this requirement was deleted.[15]

References in video games[edit]

ALARM inspired the 1993 flight simulator game Tornado. Both direct and loiter modes are supported. The modelling is fairly accurate, for instance in loiter the player will see the missile zoom climb and deploy its parachute before descending to the ground, or go on to attack a new radar source. In direct mode, the range for the missile is some 10 km and can only be fired at one target at a time.

ALARM is also found in EF2000. Both modes are again supported.


  1. ^ ALARM,
  2. ^ "Saudis review F.3 air-defence role". Flight International (Reed Business Publishing). 1991-12-25. 
  3. ^ a b Scott, Richard (21 January 2014). "UK retires ALARM missile". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Bloom, Bridget (1983-05-16). "Thatcher to resolve anti-radar missile row". Financial Times. 
  5. ^ "British Select Alarm Missile Over HARM". Aviation Week & Space Technology (McGraw-Hill). 1983-07-08. 
  6. ^ Bloom, Bridget (1983-07-30). "Missile manufacturers bid for UK navy deal". Financial Times. 
  7. ^ Buchan, David (20 July 1987). "BAe Cancels Missile Deal With Royal Ordnance". Financial Times. 
  8. ^ "British Aerospace Delays Missile Program". Aviation Week & Space Technology (McGraw-Hill). 21 September 1987. 
  9. ^ Evans, Michael (18 March 1988). "Missile bill for RAF up £150 million". The Times (Times Newspapers). 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "RAF Tornados begin Yugoslavia operations from Corsican base". Aerospace Daily & Defense Report (The McGraw-Hill Companies). 1999-06-03. 
  12. ^ Cordesman, Anthony H (2000). The Lessons and Non-Lessons of the Air and Missile Campaign in Kosovo. p. 339. 
  13. ^ a b "RAF Weapons: Long-Range-Air-to-Surface Weapons". The Royal Air Force. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Royal Air Force Dropped More Than 400 Enhanced Paveway Bombs During OIF". Defense Daily. 8 July 2003. Retrieved 9 August 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ Major Projects Report 2008, page 149(155). UK Ministry of Defence, 2008.

External links[edit]