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AGM-45 Shrike


AGM-45 Shrike

An AGM-45 Shrike on a cart before loading onto an aircraft.
Source: US Air Force (Staff Sgt. Scott Stewart) - © public domain

United States
Anti-radiation missile
Entered service
1958 - 1963
United States - Naval Weapons Center
1960's - 1982
United States - Texas Instruments
Unit cost
$ 7.000 in the 1970's
Number produced
About 18.500
ASM-N-10 (early designation)
Notable users
United States



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.

Launch platforms

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.


AGM-45 Shrike

An AGM-45 Shrike fitted onto a US Air Force F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft.
Source: US Air Force (Fred Jones) - © public domain

Variants of the AGM-45 Shrike

The AGM-45 Shrike is an anti-radiation missile based on the body of the AIM-7C Sparrow air to air missile. The original AGM-45A uses the Mk 38 rocket motor as used in early versions of the Sparrow missile.
The AGM-45B is an improved variant of the Shrike. It uses the more powerful Mk 58 dual thrust engine and has a much longer range. The AGM-45B also uses later versions all three blast fragmentation warhead options.


Facts AGM-45A AGM-45B
United States
Anti-radiation missile
3.05 m
203 mm body
914 mm wingspan
457 mm finspan
177 kg
Guidance mode
Passive radar homing
Guidance section
12 different passive radar homing guidance sections available
Launch envelope
Max 3 degree deviation from target
Blast fragmentation warhead
Warhead model
Mk 5 Mod 0, Mk 81 Mod 0 or WAU-8/B
66.6 to 67.5 kg
Engagement envelope
Single stage solid fuel rocket motor
Engine model
Rocketdyne Mk 38
Mach 2
12 km
Up to 16 km from high altitude

Related articles

AIM-7 Sparrow

The AGM-45A and -B are based on the AIM-7C and -F air to air missiles respectively.

AGM-78 Standard ARM

The AGM-78 Standard AGM was put in service alongside the AGM-45 Shrike as a longer range ARM with in flight selectable target bandwidth.


The AGM-88 was developed as a more capable and more versatile successor to the AGM-45 Shrike.