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AIM-54A Phoenix

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Uploaded on Nov 8, 2008

The AIM-54 Phoenix is a radar-guided, long-range air-to-air missile, carried in clusters of up to six missiles — formerly on the U.S. Navy's and currently on the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force's, F-14 Tomcat interceptors/multi-role fighters: which is the only aircraft capable of carrying it.

The AIM-54 was originally developed in the early 1960s for the canceled F-111B naval variant, and based on the Eagle project for the canceled F6D Missileer. Both were based on the idea of long-range, slow-cruise, non-maneuvering missile carriers to counter long-range bombers carrying low-flying cruise missiles. It had no use for close-range air superiority.

The Phoenix was designed to defend the Carrier Battle Group against a variety of threats including cruise missiles, and its range and loiter capability provided defense in depth. During the height of the Cold War, the threat included regimental-size raids of Tu-16 Badger and Tu-22M Backfire bombers equipped with high-speed cruise missiles and considerable Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) of various types. The upgraded Phoenix, the AIM-54C, was developed to better counter projected threats from tactical aircraft and cruise missiles, and its final upgrade included a re-programmable memory capability to keep pace with emerging threat ECM. It is thought that the Phoenix was based on the similar AIM-47 missile. The AIM-47 was developed for the experimental Mach-3 Lockheed YF-12 interceptor version of their venerable SR-71 Blackbird.

The U.S. Air Force adopted neither the AIM-47, nor the AIM-54, operationally. The Air Force had no similar capability with the F-15 Eagle until the introduction of the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The latest model, AIM-120C-7, has a range of 72 miles (120 km), still significantly less than the retired AIM-54.

The associated AWG-9 radar system carried by the F-111B and F-14 Tomcat was one of largest and most powerful ever fitted to a fighter.

Retired from service in 2004.

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