018 – Air-to-Air Weapons

Just as a viper relies on its venomous fangs and a hornet its stinger to deliver a lethal attack on adversaries, so too do modern combat fighter aircraft depend on guided missiles and cannon fire to engage aerial foes.

But what guidance methods do missiles use? How difficult is it to effectively employ the gun on a non-cooperative target? And how far, exactly, can the AIM-120C AMRAAM be employed against a non-maneuvering fighter-size target when both the shooter and target are at Mach 1 and above 30,000 feet?

…okay, we don’t answer that last one. In fact, for the die-hard technology and tactics buffs out there—fair warning: we avoid specific details because, more so than any other topic yet discussed on this show, information on air-to-air missiles is jealously guarded to maintain an advantage against potential foes.

Major Trevor Boswell
Major Trevor Boswell

Join our first US Air Force guest, Major Trevor Boswell, as we discuss the AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and M-61A1 Vulcan Canon—weapons common to all US ‘teen-series’ fighters. We discuss guidance methods, employment considerations, and how we employ (and simulate employing) these weapons in training.

During the listener question segment we discuss training with foreign forces, whether a fear of drones is warranted, and if it is common to still see unfamiliar faces among a carrier crew of 5,000 sailors several months into deployment.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez; fighter communications found on YouTube. Episode photograph by Eric Larson. Book your trip at Call the Ball Simulators in La Mirada, California here.