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AGM-65 Maverick

Maverick is a precision air-to-ground missile that has multiple warhead and seeker variants and is used against moving or stationary small or hard targets; armored vehicles; surface-to-air missile sites; and high-value targets such as ships, port facilities and communications centers. The missile has launch-and-leave capability that enables a pilot to fire it and immediately take evasive action or attack another target as the missile guides to the target.

The warhead is either a 125 lbs. Shaped Charge Jet and Blast (A, B, D,H) or a 300 lbs. Penetrator/Blast-Frag (E, F,G,K) an explosive charge of 86 lbs Comp B / 80 lbs PBX(AF)-108. The missile's autonomous guidance systems give aircrews launch-and-leave capability at a wide range of distances and speeds. Because of its accuracy and lethal warhead, Maverick provides a high single-pass kill probability. Mavericks can be fired from a number of aircraft against a variety of targets such as field fortifications, bunkers, hangarettes, tanks, armored personnel carriers, parked aircraft, radar or missile sites, port facilities, and ships, including high-speed patrol craft.

First employed in Southeast Asia, Maverick is the most widely used precision-guided missile in the world. Maverick has been upgraded to meet evolving threats, playing a key role in recent conflicts. The weapon's seeker technology has improved significantly since the initial television-guided version was delivered to the Air Force in 1972. Increased capabilities were added with the introduction of scene magnification optics; modern charge-coupled-device television technology; and improved software, infrared and laser seekers.

The AGM-65 Maverick is a tactical, air-to-surface guided missile designed for close air support, interdiction and defense suppression mission. It provides stand-off capability and high probability of strike against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, transportation equipment and fuel storage facilities. Maverick was used during Operation Desert Storm and, according to the Air Force, hit 85 percent of its targets.

The Maverick has a cylindrical body, and either a rounded glass nose for electro-optical imaging, or a zinc sulfide nose for imaging infrared. It has long-chord delta wings and tail control surfaces mounted close to the trailing edge of the wing of the aircraft using it. The warhead is in the missile's center section. A cone-shaped warhead, one of two types carried by the Maverick missile, is fired by a contact fuse in the nose. The other is a delayed-fuse penetrator, a heavyweight warhead that penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before firing. The latter is very effective against large, hard targets. The propulsion system for both types is a solid-rocket motor behind the warhead.

A-10, F-15E and F-16 aircraft carry Mavericks. Since as many as six Mavericks can be carried by an aircraft, usually in three round, underwing clusters, the pilot can engage several targets on one mission. The missile also has "launch-and-leave" capability that enables a pilot to fire it and immediately take evasive action or attack another target as the missile guides itself to the target. Mavericks can be launched from high altitudes to tree-top level and can hit targets ranging from a distance of a few thousand feet to 13 nautical miles at medium altitude.

The Maverick variants include electro-optical/television (A and B), imaging infrared (D, F, and G), or laser guidance (E). The Air Force developed the Maverick, and the Navy procured the imaging infrared and the laser guided versions. The AGM-65 has two types of warheads, one with a contact fuse in the nose, the other a heavyweight warhead with a delayed fuse, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before firing. The latter is very effective against large, hard targets. The propulsion system for both types is a solid-rocket motor behind the warhead.

Maverick A has an electro-optical television guidance system and a 125-lb. warhead. After the protective dome cover is automatically removed from the nose of the missile and its video circuitry activated, the scene viewed by the guidance system appears on a cockpit television screen. The pilot selects the target, centers cross hairs on it, locks on, then launches the missile. A total of 12,559 AGM-65A Mavericks were produced.

The Maverick B is similar to the A model, although the television guidance system has a "Scene Mag" screen magnification capability and seeker-improved optics enabled the pilot to identify and lock on smaller and more distant targets. It provided refined target acquisition capability and increased single-pass kill probability. A total of 13,579 AGM-65B Mavericks were produced.

The Maverick C was a USAF laser-guided missile that was not put into production

The Maverick D has an imaging infrared guidance system, operated much like that of the A and B models, except that infrared video overcomes the daylight-only, adverse weather limitations of the other systems. The infrared Maverick D can track heat generated by a target and provide the pilot a pictorial display of the target during darkness and hazy or inclement weather. A total of 10,943 AGM-65D Mavericks were produced through 1999.

The Maverick E was adopted in the AGM-65E version as the Marine corps laser Maverick weapon for use from Marine aircraft against fortified ground installations, armored vehicles and surface combatants. The Navy AGM-65E/F differs from previous Air Force MAVERICK missiles by incorporating a heavier warhead, a dual thrust rocket motor, and an infrared or laser seeker. This was the first variant with 300-lb. Maverick Alternate Warhead (MAW) with selectable fusing to provide increased effectiveness against high-value targets. The AGM-65E uses a laser seeker and the AGM-65F employs an infrared seeker. The infrared and laser seeker sections can be interchanged with no other alterations to the missile. Used in conjunction with ground or airborne laser designators, the missile seeker, searches a sector 7 miles across and over 10 miles ahead. If the missile loses laser spot it goes ballistic and flies up and over target -- the warhead does not explode, but becomes a dud. A total of 2,165 AGM-65E Mavericks were produced through 1999.

The Maverick F AGM-65F (infrared targeting) used by the Navy has a larger (300 pound; 136 kg) penetrating warhead vice the 125 pound (57 kg) shaped charge used by Marine and Air Force), a dual thrust rocket motor, and infrared guidance system optimized for ship tracking. A total of 1,732 AGM-65F Mavericks were produced through 1999.

The Maverick G model essentially has the same guidance system as the D, with some software modifications that track larger targets. The G model's major difference is its heavyweight penetrator warhead, while Maverick A, B and D models employ the shaped-charge warhead. A total of 10,414 AGM-65G Mavericks were produced through 1999.

The Air Force accepted the first AGM-65A Maverick in August 1972. A total of 25,750 A and B Mavericks were purchased by the Air Force. The Air Force took delivery of the first AGM-65D in October 1983, with initial operational capability in February 1986. Delivery of operational AGM-65G missiles took place in 1989. AGM-65 missiles were employed by F-16s and A-10s in 1991 to attack armored targets in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. Mavericks played a large part in the destruction of Iraq's significant military force.

TV Mavericks had experienced declining reliability and maintainability since exceeding their 10 year shelf life. The Depot purchased a lifetime buy of all spare parts for TV Mavericks in FY88 and those parts began running out. Due to funding shortfalls, the Depot ceased to repair AGM-65A Maverick missiles and concentrated on maintaining AGM-65B, AGM-65D, and AGM-65G Maverick missiles.

In August 2007 the US Air Force expressed interest in re-establishing production of Raytheon Company's laser-guided AGM-65E Maverick missile. The air-to-ground weapon could meet the service's urgent operational need in the near-term for a close air support weapon to defeat high-speed moving targets with minimal collateral damage. The Air Force operated with television- and infrared-guided versions of Maverick, while only the Navy and Marine Corps had employed the laser-guided version. The laser-guided Maverick has a combat-proven record of effectiveness and reliability against armored and moving surface targets in scenarios involving urban environments and during close air support missions. The laser version significantly enhanced the Air Force's precision capability required to save lives in close combat and quick-reaction situations. To get that capability on Air Force aircraft in short order, the Navy agreed to transfer some of its inventory of laser-guided Mavericks to the Air Force.


In 1998 the US Air Force and Raytheon worked out an intricate arrangement to upgrade electro-optically-guided AGM-65 air-to-ground Maverick missiles through reuse of hardware on older Mavericks. The upgrade is intended to extend the service life of the AGM-65 through the use of a charge coupled device (CCD) seeker. Operational benefits of the CCD include greater reliability and the ability to operate in lower light levels. The AGM-65/K missile was a restructuring of the Reliability & Maintainability 2000 Maverick Program which had already passed an AFOTEC QOT&E program. Conversions required circuit card assemblies provided by harvesting government assets. This phase of the program fixed deficiencies identified in the QOT&E effort and prepare for quantity production. Fixing the deficiencies improved the reliability and effectiveness of the missile.

The AF put together a plan to buy about 2,500 missiles but was unable to fund the program. As a result, it intially scaled back its procurement plans to about 1,200. Also, Raytheon proposed an exchange program in which it reused parts of older Mavericks to reduce the cost of the improved Mavericks. The two-part agreement calls for Raytheon to buy old missiles and guidance and control sections from the AF. the Maverick AGM-65K upgrade program reused components that were, for all practical purposes, new - having been built between 1993 and 1996, and immediately put into storage. These components basically never left the factory.

The main portion of the program called for Raytheon to buy back guidance and control sections of some of the 5,300 IR-guided AGM-65Gs the AF bought after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The IR seekers have six cards that are common with the CCD and are reused. The CCDs then are mated with the center aft section of the missiles that were earlier stripped of their IR seeker. The new missile will be known as the AGM-65K.

The AF first considered a CCD upgrade using AGM-65Bs to make AGM-65Hs. Those missiles have a 125-pound warhead. But the conversion program taking AGM-65Gs - which have a more powerful 300-pound warhead - and making them into AGM-65Ks will be lower cost. Raytheon will use IR seeker parts not needed by the CCD for foreign military sales customers. Although some of the IR seeker would have to be newly built, the reuse of some hardware will make the total seeker less expensive than it would have been otherwise.

The second part of the AGM-65K program involved Raytheon's procurement of up to 1,000 of about 7,000 AGM-65As that had been in cold storage. This became necessary because Raytheon's Maverick airframe supplier was getting out of the business, even though Raytheon still received foreign orders for new missiles.

After detailed analysis and disassembly of six missiles, the cold storage AGM-65As were deemed to be as good as the day they were built. The missiles were corrosion coated inside and out, and not just on the outside like newer Mavericks. The arrangement calls for the US Government to receive about $2,150 per missile. Raytheon took the missile apart and returns those items that need to be demilitarized, such as the warhead, to the government. The government paid disposal costs which would have been incurred anyway. Because Raytheon disassembles the missile, the government saves about $500 to $1,000 per unit. The approximately $2.1 million the government received went towards the AGM-65 upgrade.

One of the advantages for foreign military sales customers was stable pricing for the airframe. In the past a small Maverick order could result in high airframe costs. Only pristine missiles are being accepted. Raytheon refused any missiles that had been out of cold storage, such as captive-carry missiles. Some consideration is even being given to reuse some parts of the AGM-65A. In addition to its combat missiles the AF will also receive upgraded training missiles. Although the Raytheon/AF agreement allowed the AF to move forward with the CCD upgrade, the scope of the program was much smaller than first planned. The AF was hoping to upgrade about 2,500 missiles, about 50% of the requirement Air Combat Command has articulated.

Raytheon bought back 1,200 Guidance and Control Sections (GCS) from the Air Force inventory of 5,300 IR-guided AGM-65G's bought after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, exchanging hardware from the older AGM-65G's to fund production of the newer AGM-65K's (thus the term G's for K's). In the process, they reused about 1,200 AGM-65G Maverick missiles built since Desert Storm and replaced each missile's IR seeker with a CCD GCS. In addition, Raytheon was able to use parts of the IR seeker it didn't need for the CCD for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.

The new AGM-65K was the newest electro-optically guided Maverick, carrying a 300-lb. warhead, and was the first new Maverick seeker variant in nearly 15 years. Its CCD GCS offered a large improvement over the old TV-seeker on previous Mavericks, by providing greater reliability than the previous TV Maverick inventory, a much clearer picture, greater detection range, and the ability to operate in lower light conditions.

The AGM-65/K Maverick Program allowed ACC to retain an electro-optical Maverick capability with greatly increased reliability well into the 21st century. Credit was received from providing up to 2,000 AGM-65 guidance and control sections (GCS), with an estimated worth of over $75.7 million, to Raytheon Missile System Company. Enough conversion assets existed to produce over 2,360 AGM-65K missiles; however, a total of 1,393 were funded through 2004.

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Page last modified: 06-12-2017 17:40:27 ZULU