| Mission: The AIM-7 Sparrow is a radar-guided,
missile with a high-explosive warhead. The versatile Sparrow has
all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack
high-performance aircraft and missiles from any direction. It is a
widely deployed missile used by U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty
Features: The missile has four major sections:
section, warhead, control and rocket motor. It has a cylindrical body
with four wings at mid-body and four tail fins. Although external
dimensions of the Sparrow remained relatively unchanged from model to
model, the internal components of newer missiles represent major
improvements with vastly increased capabilities.
Background: The AIM-7F joined the Air Force inventory in
1976 as the primary medium-range, air-to-air missile for the F-15 Eagle.
The AIM-7M, the only current operational version, entered service in
1982. It has improved reliability and performance over earlier models
at low altitudes and in electronic countermeasures environments. It
also has a significantly more lethal warhead. The latest software
version of the AIM-7M is the H-Build that has been produced since 1987
and incorporates additional improvements in guidance. The F-15 Eagle
and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters carry the AIM-7M Sparrow. U.S. and
NATO navies operate a surface-to-air/surface version of this missile
called the RIM-7F/M Sea Sparrow.
In the Persian Gulf War, the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow proved to be a
potent air-to-air weapon used by Air Force fighter pilots. Twenty-two
Iraqi fixed-wing aircraft and three Iraqi helicopters were downed by
radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow missiles.