An AGM-45 Shrike on a cart before loading onto an aircraft.
Source: US Air Force (Staff Sgt. Scott Stewart) - © public domain
The AGM-45 Shrike is a Cold War era anti-radiation missile of US origin. It was developed in the early 1960's to counter Soviet SAM systems such as the SA-2 Guideline. The Shrike was the first dedicated anti-radiation missile developed in the United States. Even with the introduction of the AGM-78 Standard ARM in US service the Shrike was retained for its low unit cost. Nowadays it is considered an obsolete weapon due to its low effectiveness.
The Shrike is based on the AIM-7 Sparrow missile but is fitted with a different guidance section, blast fragmentation warhead and smaller tail fins. The layout is also similar to the Sparrow with most of the body made up of the single stage solid fuel rocket motor at the rear, the warhead in the middle and the guidance section at the front. The AGM-45A is based on the early AIM-7C missile, while the later AGM-45B uses the dual thrust rocket motor of the AIM-7F.
The Shrike uses a passive radar homing guidance section. The limited capability guidance section is considered the weakest part of the Shrike's design. A total of 12 guidance sections are available, each set up to target radars operating in a different spectrum. This means that once the aircraft is airborne only a certain type of radar system can be engaged. The seeker also allows for a maximum of 3 degree deviation from the target, requiring a precise attack vector. In case the target radar is turned off the Shrike will miss since it cannot compute the last known radar location. These factors all contribute to the low success rate of the Shrike, which never exceeded 25 percent.
The Shrike is fitted with one of six available warheads. These are all of the blast fragmentation type and weigh about 66 kg. Most radar systems are rendered in-operational after a direct hit, but strikes against larger systems may result in loss of the antenna only. Due to the fragmentation effect, leaving most of the structures intact, it is difficult to visually determine the effectiveness, resulting in uncertainty about the success of the strike. When fired from high altitude the AGM-45A may target radars out to 16 km, which is well within the range of most SAM systems. The AGM-45B has a much improved rocket motor, resulting in a range of up to 40 km.
The Shrike can be launched from a variety of US aircraft including the A-4 Skyhawk, F-4 Phantom, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-7 Corsair, A-6 Intruder and F-105 Thunderchief. Foreign aircraft capably of using the Shrike were the Israeli Kfir fighter and British Vulcan B-2 bomber. A ground launched variant was developed in Israel and is known as the Kilshon, although the name Kachlilit is sometimes used as well. The Kilshon system uses a turretless M4 Sherman hull that mounts a single launcher for a modified Shrike with larger booster to provide the desired range.
The main users of the Shrike were the US Air Force and the US Navy. The Shrike was exported to several nations with good ties with the USA. The Shrike was widely used during the Vietnam war and many subsequent conflicts. Due to its low cost it was retained in US service until 1992. The Shrike has also been used with varying success during the Falkland war and various Middle Eastern conflicts.
An AGM-45 Shrike fitted onto a US Air Force F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft.
Source: US Air Force (Fred Jones) - © public domain
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