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AGM-153

The AGM-153 was a tactical air-to-surface missile, proposed in 1992 by the USAF Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Eglin AFB. In 1989 the global challenges and security concerns facing the United States began to change rapidly. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, and the (mostly) peaceful dismantling of the Soviet Union, the world emerged from the Cold War. Almost overnight, the old certainties that had governed American defense policy and operations were swept away to be replaced by new, more complex and uncertain challenges.

With the immediate threat to national survival lessened, the 1990s saw a precipitous decline in the US defense budget. At the same time, the US was increasingly called upon to take actions outside of the regions which had usually been the focus of major military operations Europe and the Pacific. The US response, in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, exemplified the new security environment. Joint-service operations swiftly achieved an overwhelming victory with low casualties among coalition forces in large measure due to the application of air power, enhanced by stealth and precision-guided weapons.

The AGM-153 would be launched from both high and low altitudes against both fixed and mobile targets, ranging from bunkers to armored vehicles. Modular construction would allow different types of warheads and seeker heads. A two way data link would allow the weapon to lock on the target after launch, and controlled all the way to the target. It was planned to operate the missile initially from the F-16 Fighting Falcon and B-1 Lancer aircraft.

The XAGM-153A was to have a hard target penetrating warhead. The XAGM-153B featured a blast-fragmentation warhead. Both warheads would have weighed about 360 kg (800 lb). To distinguish among seeker heads a numerical suffix was also mooted, with -1 missiles having a TV unit in the nose and -2 missiles an imaging infra-red system, but this was not formally adopted.

Viability studies of the AGM-153 led to the cancellation of the project at an early stage. No final design was decided and no hardware was produced prior to cancellation. Reasons for the cancellation were not formally announced, but the proposed AGM-153 would have a very similar warhead and guidance package to the AGM-142 Have Nap. Probably the Air Force simply saw no reason to produce a missile that offered nothing beyond this competing design.



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