AIM-54A Phoenix

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Description

The AIM-54A Phoenix is an American active radar homing missile. It was introduced in Update "Danger Zone". The AIM-54A Phoenix is the first active-radar homing missile to be introduced in War Thunder.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

General info

Missile characteristics
Mass 447 kg
Guidance ARH+IOG+DL
Signal CW
Lock range 16 km
Launch range 150 km
Maximum speed 4.3 M
Maximum overload 16 G
Missile guidance time 100 secs
Explosive mass 60.54 kg TNTeq

Effective damage

The AIM-54 is equipped with a 60 kg TNT warhead, capably of destroying targets with wide proximity fuze.

Comparison with analogues

Compared to the 2nd longest range missile in the game, AIM-7F Sparrow, the Phoenix has much longer range, but sacrifices manoeuvrability heavily.

Usage in battles

The F-14A launching a AIM-54A Phoenix. Note the visible trailing smoke.

While taking more than 2 of these missiles isn't recommended in regular RB maps, an F-14 pilot can climb to about 5000 meters after take off and launch at any target it sees, preferably high altitude targets. Backing up to their team right after. In EC maps, this missile can be launched in groups to different targets at very long ranges by F-14 pilots.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Has an active radar homing (ARH) seeker, which gives it fire-and-forget capability
  • Can reach ranges that no other weapon system in the game can reach, if high enough in altitude can hit targets beyond 50 km
  • Extremely fast at high altitudes after some acceleration
  • Can be launched in TWS, which gives target no radar lock notification until the missile goes pitbull
  • Has decently wide proximity radius which the missile can explode

Cons:

  • Can only pull 16Gs, anybody paying attention can easily dodge by changing directions
  • Only usable in long ranges, won't even track in close ranges
  • Extremely heavy, it takes a lot of time to reach the speeds that its effective at
  • May lose track right after the launch if TWS lock is lost

History

A Douglas A-3A Skywarrior equipped with a AWG-9 radar test-fires a Phoenix missile in 1966.

Development

Development of an American long-range air-to-air missile trace back to the 1958, when Hughes was awarded a contract by the United States Air Force for the GAR-9 missile (designated in 1962 as the AIM-47), which was to have a range of 160 kilometers (100 miles) and a 45 kg (100 lb) warhead. Due to the long-distance required, the missile was given an active radar seeker in order to attack their target. The US Navy, seeking a fleet-defense weapon since the late 1950s, took interest in the GAR-9 design as a potential candidate and contracted Hughes in 1962 to develop a new long-range air-to-air missile, designated AAM-N-11, for their fleet interceptor. AAM-N-11 would be later designated in June 1963 as the AIM-54A Phoenix.[1]

Compared to the preceding AIM-47, Hughes' AIM-54 featured an AN/DSQ-26 semi-active radar homing seeker for cruising while receiving updates on target position. The missile switches over to active radar homing for the terminal attack around 18 km from the interception point. The AIM-54 featured a Rocketdyne Mk47 or Aerojet Mk60 rocket motor that helped propelled the missile more than Mach 4. The missile maintain the range specification of 160 km and was to be able to attack both aircraft and cruise missiles. The warhead is a 60 kg (132 lb) MK 82 blast-fragmentation warhead that was trigger by a fuse system consisting of radar proximity, IR proximity, and an impact fuse.[2]

A YAIM-54A being evaluated with a F-14 in 1973.

Flight tests of the prototype (XAIM-54A) started in 1965, with the first interception tests taking place on 08 September 1966 at the Navy Pacific Missile Range, fired from a Douglas A-3A Skywarrior.[3] The aircraft platform for the AIM-54 Phoenix was originally the F-111B, an aircraft intended to have commonality with the US Air Force's F-111 Aardvark, but this was cancelled in 1968. The US Navy set to work building a new fleet-defense fighter to their specifications on 03 February 1969, which produced the F-14A Tomcat, which was to carry six AIM-54 missiles linked with its AN/AWG-9 radar, allowing the aircraft to fire all six AIM-54 missiles simultaneously at separate targets.[1]

A F-14A from VF-111 launching a AIM-54C Phoenix missile.

Hughes received a production contract for the AIM-54 missile in December 1970 as more tests with the missiles continue to show its capabilities. During November 1973, the missile passes its technical evaluation and is slated to be ready for deployment with the F-14A. The F-14A's capability with the AIM-54 was shown during an exercise on 21 November 1973, with the missile officially adopted into the US Navy service the same year and ready to be operationally deployed with the F-14A in November 1974. At the time, the missile costed $477,131 USD, which is roughly $3 million USD in 2022 adjusted for inflation.[3]

Other variants of the AIM-54A developed, primarily for training purposes, were the ATM-54A with an inert warhead for firing exercises, the CATM-54A as a non-launching missile for target acquisition practice, the DATM-54A for ground-handling training, and the AEM-54A that contained telemetry electronics for test and evaluation purposes.[2]

The AIM-54A would continue production until 18 November 1980 with a total of 2505 units as it was replaced by the improved AIM-54C Phoenix missile.[3]

Iranian service

The AIM-54A Phoenix would never be used in combat in F-14As piloted by American crew. Instead, most of the AIM-54A aerial victories were scored by the nation Iran.

Iran, under the Shah, made a signed contract in January 1974 for 30 F-14A Tomcats and includes 424 AIM-54As, with another 50 F-14As and 290 AIM-54A missiles in June the same year. However, only 274 Phoenixes and 10 training missiles would be delivered prior to the Iranian Revolution.[4]

Two Iranian F-14As flying, with the right F-14 holding four AIM-54A in its center pylons and the left F-14 holding one AIM-54A on the left outboard pylon.

The new Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) would use the procured F-14A and AIM-54A Phoenix missiles in the Iran-Iraq War that launched in 1980. The first air victory credited to the AIM-54A Phoenix occurred on 13 September 1980 when a patrolling Iranian F-14A of 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) from Tactical Fighter Base 8 (TFB 8) shot down a MIG-23MS.[5] On 07 January 1981, two Iranian F-14A from TFB 8 spotted four MiG-23BN flying in a tight formation and launched a AIM-54A from a distance of 50 km. The missile detonated on the lead MiG, but the explosion, debris, and tight formation the MiGs were flying in led to two other MiG-23s crashing. This is currently the only known case of a single anti-aircraft missile downing three aircraft.[6]

The IRIAF continued to use the AIM-54A Phoenixes throughout the Iran-Iraq War, even as the stocks of Phoenix missiles began to ran dry due to usage and inability to maintain AIM-54s due to the exigency of war and the lack of spare parts such as thermal batteries. The Iranians received spare parts and service-life extension kits known as Phase 1M54ALE for the AIM-54 Phoenixes as part of the Iran-Contra affair, but the stocks of AIM-54 fell below 50 working missiles by November 1987.[7] By the time a ceasefire is held 07 July 1988 to begin ending the Iran-Iraq War, the IRIAF was credited with 62 victories with the use of AIM-54 Phoenixes.[8]

With the US retirement of the AIM-54 on 30 September 2004, the IRIAF remains the only user of the AIM-54 Phoenix missiles.[2] In an attempt to supplement their dwindling quantity of AIM-54, Iran developed a domestic production version of the missile, the Fakour-90, which was unveiled in 2013. The Fakour-90 is suspected to be derived from reverse-engineering the US MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile.[9]

Media

Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the article about the variant of the weapon;
  • references to approximate analogues by other nations and research trees.

External links

References

Citations
  1. 1.0 1.1 Goebel 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Parsch 2004
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Naval Air Systems Command 2017
  4. Cooper and Bishop 2004, 13-14, 27
  5. Cooper and Bishop 2004, 38
  6. Cooper and Bishop 2004, 68
  7. Cooper and Bishop 2004, 125, 156
  8. Stillion 2015, 22
  9. Cenciotti 2013
Bibliography
  • Cencioti, David. 2013. "Iranian F-14 Tomcat’s “new” indigenous air-to-air missile is actually an (improved?) AIM-54 Phoenix replica." Last modified September 26, 2013. Website (Archive).
  • Cooper, Tom and Farzad Bishop. 2004. Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units In Combat. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. Kindle.
  • Goebel, Greg. 2021. "[1.0] Falcon & Sidewinder." Air Vectors. Last modified July 01, 2021. Website (Archive).
  • Naval Air Systems Command. 2017. "AIM-54 Phoenix Missile." United States Navy. Last modified March 10, 2017. Website (Archive).
  • Parsch, Andreas. 2004. "AIM-54." Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Last modified October 08, 2004. Website (Archive)
  • Stillion, John. 2015. Trends in Air-to-Air Combat: Implications for Future Air Superiority. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. CSBA Online.


Missiles
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  AIM-9B Sidewinder · AIM-9C Sidewinder · AIM-9D Sidewinder · AIM-9E Sidewinder · AIM-9G Sidewinder · AIM-9H Sidewinder · AIM-9J Sidewinder · AIM-9L Sidewinder · AIM-9P Sidewinder
  AIM-54A Phoenix
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Britain 
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Sweden 
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SAM  Rbs 70
Israel 
AAM  Shafrir · Shafrir 2
  AAM = Air-to-Air Missile   AGM = Air-to-Ground Missile   ATGM = Anti-Tank Guided Missile (Ground mounts)   SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile