Vehicles equipped with this weapon
|Lock range||15 km|
|Launch range||45 km|
|Maximum speed||4.0 M|
|Maximum overload||15 G|
|Missile guidance time||40 secs|
|Explosive mass||11.52 kg TNTeq|
The warhead of the AIM-7D Sparrow is large, the AIM-7D packs enough explosive to destroy almost any aircraft caught in its blast. Even those lucky enough to not be blown to bits will certainly take a significant amount of critical damage.
Comparison with analogues
The Soviet SARH missiles most comparable with the AIM-7D are the R-23R and the R-3R.
The R-23R is a similar long-range SARH missile mounted on the MiG-23 Flogger. It carries a warhead almost twice as powerful (20.8 kg TNTeq). The R-23R has a higher maximum overload (20 G), making it more effective against manoeuvring targets. The Sparrow however has a higher maximum speed (4.0 M vs 3.0 M), allowing it to hit targets faster.
The R-3R is a comparable Soviet SARH missile meant for short-to-medium range engagements, and is primarily mounted on MiG-21 Fishbed jets. Although it cannot compete with the range (9 km vs 45 km) or speed (1.7 M vs 4.0 M) of the Sparrow, it is much more manoeuvrable, making it better in a head-on and in dogfights.
Usage in battles
The AIM-7D is primarily used by the F-4C Phantom II. Due to the somewhat short firing time of the rocket motor, long-range engagements near the advertised maximum range are really only possible at high altitude, where the reduced air drag gives the missile a much better acceleration.
The AIM-7D can engage targets at low altitude, but it will not be nearly as fast as at higher altitude, and will decelerate quicker as well, meaning it cannot be used at its maximum range. Manoeuvrability is not the AIM-7D's strong suit, and therefore it can be defeated by manoeuvring alone. A strong lock is required in order to guarantee that the missile tracks, otherwise it will self destruct soon after launch due to failing to find its lock.
Pros and cons
- Can be launched from long ranges
- Can catch opponents off-guard and can be launched in head-ons
- Needs a radar lock, meaning it doesn't work very well on targets near the ground due to ground clutter that interferes with radar
- Not fire-and-forget, you need to follow the target to keep a radar lock until the moment the missile hits
- Takes around 1 km before it starts tracking
- Has a tendency to not track and just blow itself up a few seconds after it's fired
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