AIM-54 PHOENIX gallery

The AIM-54A Phoenix had a semi-active DSQ-26 radar installed in the fuselage, consisting of a battery, electrical converter, autopilot, electronic unit, transceiver and a flat antenna detector. In addition, we had to add the 60 kg annular warhead with Downey Mk.334 proximity fuse, IR Bendix fuse and delayed-effect contact fuse. Finally, the middle-rear part of the fuselage was occupied by the solid propellant and the propulsion system, composed by a Rocketdyne (Flexadyne) Mk.47 or Aerojet Mk.60 long-combustion engine that gave it a final speed of Mach 3.8 (4,655 km/h).
The missile guidance system was semi-active/active type. Its seeker used semi-active continuous wave guidance with updates during the flight provided by the aircraft’s radar, but in the terminal stage, (about 18 km from the target), the active Doppler radar installed in the missile was activated. After its launch, the missile climbed to an altitude of between 24 and 36 km to maximize its range as there was less friction at those heights. The Phoenix missile had to be fired at a minimum distance of almost 4 km from the target in order to activate its homing system.
Manufacturing of the AIM-54A began in 1973 at a rate of 40 missiles per month, reaching 2,500 missiles built by the end of 1978. Production finally ended in 1980 as demand dropped considerably. Since 1977 the missiles delivered were the AIM-54B variant with sheet metal wings and fins, non-liquid hydraulic and thermal conditioning systems, and engineering simplifications. In 1980 Hughes Aircraft delivered 15 modified missiles, designated as AIM-54C (on the image). On June 2, a successful frontal launch was made against a QF-4 target aircraft with the missile in semi-active mode. By the end of 1981 another 30 test launches were carried out and production began in mid-1982. The AIM-54C variant came into service with entirely digital electronics, solid state radar instead of Klystron tube, new inertial unit, improved ECCM capability and new proximity fuse among other improvements.
The AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missile has been the largest manufactured in the West with a weight of 447 kg in the A variant and 463 kg in the C variant. It was also the most expensive at $ 477,000/unit when it entered service, although the C variant it is believed to cost about $ 2 million/unit. Each missile could cover an area of 31,000 km2 and due to its enormous weight, a maximum of only 4 missiles per aircraft were carried. With the maximum load of 6 Phoenix, the F-14 Tomcat could exceed the maximum weight when landing on the aircraft carrier if during mission had not spent some missiles. The Phoenix could intercept enemies at maximum distance and head-on just by identifying targets, one of the most difficult ways if done at maximum distance.
Iran is currently the sole user of the Phoenix missile, but its quantity and operational status are unknown. It is known that during the War against Iraq they obtained almost 80 victories with this missile, it is even rumored that there were a couple of occasions that with a single missile more than one aircraft were shot down. In 2013 Iran presented a missile designated as Fakour 90 that is externally the same as the Phoenix, although it appears to have less range and performance. In contrast, the use of the Phoenix by the US Navy does not seem to have given such excellent results, since they used it twice in 1999 against (coincidentally) Iraqi aircrafts, but on one occasion the missile’s engines failed and on another the missile hit the ground after changing the target its course.

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