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AGM-12 Bullpup - Variants

AGM-12B Bullpup-A

The original ASM-N-7 Bullpup was soon upgraded to an improved variant, the ASM-N-7A, in 1960, which was redesignated AGM-12B Bullpup-A in 1962. The basic version of the missile had been produced not more than a year, after which the rocket was modified by replacing the solid-propellant rocket with the improved Thiokol LR58-RM-4 liquid-propellant engine; the range of the missile application is increased to 11 kilometers. This was considered quite enough for that time and under the new name ASM-N-7A "Bullpup" the missile is used and launched into mass production. In a short time, this model completely replaced its progenitor.

The AGM-12B was put into second source production by W.L. Maxson. Production terminated in 1970 at 22,100 rounds. The AGM-12B had a 250-lb warhead, making it light enough for many different types of aircraft to carry. However, the small explosive proved too small to destroy more substantial targets. Also, the guidance system required a pilot to fly in a straight line to keep a constant watch on the Bullpup A, which increased the threat from antiaircraft defenses. It was carried on U.S. Air Force F-100, F-105 and F-4 aircraft.

Although the Air Force used some stock Bullpup-As as the "GAM-83", they were obtained strictly as an interim solution until the service could get an enhanced variant of the Bullpup-A, originally designated "GAM-83A" but confusingly redesignated "AGM-12B" in 1962 even though it wasn't the same as the Navy AGM-12B. The Air Force AGM-12B featured an improved guidance system that relaxed the need for the pilot to keep the target lined up in the gunsight, allowing attacks on targets off the launch aircraft's line of flight.

AGM-12C Bullpup B

The AGM-12C Bullpup B was a larger follow-on version of the original Bullpup air-to-surface radio-guided missile. The AGM-12C carried a 1,000 pound semi-armor-piercing warhead in the enlarged midsection. The largest of the Bullpup series of missiles, the AGM-12C is also the oddest-looking member, distinguished from the other Bullpup versions by its unusual long-chord wings. It weighed 1,785 pounds and used a 30,000-pound thrust liquid-fuel rocket engine to achieve a range of ten miles. The pilot guided the missile by watching the position of tail-mounted tracking flares in relation to his line-of-sight view of the target. Steering commands to correct the missile flight path were sent via one of the 24 available radio channels.

The United States Air Force ws also interested in high-precision weapons, as the Army was concerned about the lack modern types of missile weapons and precision weapons in the Air Force. The Air Force since 1955 had been interested in the development of Bullpup for its own needs, but the creation of an operational capacility for for the Air Force under the White Lance program has been greatly delayed for various reasons. As a result, an ASM-N-7a modification was used for the Air Force program, which received the designation GAM-83A. In 1963, all missiles produced for the Air Force and the Navy are reduced to a single designation AGM-12C. The Bullpup B entered USAF service in 1965, and was carried by F-4 and F-105 fighters during the Vietnam war.

At first, the U.S. Air Force's conventional bombs lacked the accuracy to destroy tough targets like the Thanh Hoa Bridge (or "Dragon's Jaw" Bridge), 70 miles south of Hanoi. In April 1965 radio-guided Martin AGM-12 Bullpup missiles were used on the first attack on the bridge. With just a 250-pound warhead, they proved too lightweight to do any real damage. Repeated air attacks failed to destroy this important bridge completely until very late in the war. The Navy's Walleye proved better.

The best result of using "Bullpup" in Vietnam is the attack of the A-4 "Skyhawk" attack aircraft from CV-65 to the cave warehouse in North Vietnam. Located in natural caves in the hillside, the warehouse was repeatedly subjected to powerful bombardment, but free-falling bombs could not cause any damage to it. Then the Navy undertook the task, and what turned out to be beyond the power of strategic bombers was the attack aircraft with a guided missile. The guided AGM-12C "Bullpup" entered exactly into the entrance to the cave, and detonated inside, causing a fire and subsequent detonation of stacks of boxes of ammunition. The warehouse was completely destroyed: assessing this situation now, military experts admit that the hit was an example of an extremely successful "golden shot."


Eventually, the USAF also sponsored development of another Bullpup-A variant, originally known as the "GAM-83B", but redesignated the "AGM-12D". This variant looked much like the AGM-12B, but had a slightly larger diameter that allowed it to carry either a conventional high-explosive or a tactical nuclear warhead. The AGM-12D was a nuclear variant originally known as the GAM-83B, but redesignated the AGM-12D. This variant looked much like the AGM-12B, but had a slightly larger diameter that allowed it to carry either a conventional or tactical nuclear warhead. Replacing the conventional warhead with the W-45 nuclear device with a yield of 1 to 12 kilotons, the main purpose was the application in the tactical zone of the front line where the use of conventional weapons was not sufficiently effective. It was assumed that with the help of these missiles, there would be enough holes in the Soviet tank formations that the Western forces could prevail.


The latest modification of the rocket "AGM-12E" comes into service in mid-1969. The AGM-12E had a cluster bomb warhead intended for use against anti-aircraft sites, but only about 840 were built. The main purpose is to defeat the enemy's targets and manpower.

AGM-79 Blue Eye

Martin Marietta developed a variant based on the Bullpup-B and designated the AGM-79 Blue Eye, to address the main problem of the Bullpup - poor accuracy. This air-to-ground missile had an electro-optic seeker with a pattern-matching "fire and forget" capability similar to that of the HOBOS glide bomb. Blue Eye was supposed to be free of the flaws of the original command guidance system, manual control with visual target and missile control. Guidance was taken from AGM-62 Walleye. The TV camera in the missile transmitted the screen image in the cockpit, the pilot captured the target at the center of the crosshairs of the screen, narrowing the viewing angle of the camera to lock the target. After the launch, the missile was routed autonomously, and the mother plane could take escape maneuvers. Missile tests took place in the second half of 1968. There is little information of this project, which was cancelled in 1970. The AGM-79 equipment did not enter production.

AGM-80 Viper

Chrysler worked on a variant designated the AGM-80 Viper, an air to surface missile derived from the AGM-12C Bullpup-B, but featuring a new inertial guidance system providing fire-and-forget performance. The AGM-80 Viper was the second USAF project (the first one being the AGM-79 Blue Eye) intended to develop an improved AGM-12 Bullpup derivative with an automatic guidance system. Unfortunately, there are not many details about Viper except that it was to use an on-board two-axis inertial guidance unit, and a radar-altimeter fuze for airbursts. Viper development was cancelled in 1974 after several launches of XAGM-80A prototypes.

AGM-83 Bulldog

Texas Instruments developed a version of the Bullpup-A designated the "AGM-83 Bulldog" that was fitted with a laser seeker, and had an improved 113 kilogram (250 pound) blast-fragmentation warhead. Firing tests were begun in 1971 and proved very successful. The Navy was leaning towards putting the Bulldog into production, but the Maverick ASM (more on this weapon later) was preferred, and the Bulldog was cancelled in 1972.

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Page last modified: 06-12-2017 17:40:29 ZULU