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AIM-97 Seekbat

AIM-97 Seekbat The MiG-25, under the designation of E-266, was setting speed records as early as 1965. It, like the MiG-23, was first displayed in 1967. In 1972, the US Air Force launched a program to devlop a long-range air-to-air guided high-altitude rocket designed to combat the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor and scout. As a basis, the designers took the AGM-78 Standard ARM anti-radar missile. The new missile received the designation XAIM-97 SeekBat [to seek out the Foxbat]. Seekbat was large - more than twice as heavy as a late-model AIM-7, and heavier and longer (but narrower) than an AIM-54. But F-105s and F-4s regularly carried Standard ARM and they didn't seem unduly imparied by it, so an F-15 likely would barely notice them.

In the early to mid 1970s the United States was greatly affected by the perceived capabilities of the Mig-25 Foxbat aircraft, which, as it was known, was capable of speeds in excess of Mach 3 and carrying long distance air-air missiles on board. It is widely alleged that the Foxbat was a new generation of "super fighter" superior to any United States airplane. The MiG-25 was intended originally to perform a single mission -- interception of high-altitude, high-speed targets -- although it was latter been adapted to a short-range reconnaissance mission. The radar, though based on a technology that was out-of-date by American standards, is one of the most powerful ever seen in an aircraft and therefore less vulnerable to jamming.

To equip the F-15, the US Air Force began development AIM-82 short-range missiles and AIM-Seekbat. The former was a dogfighting missile intended as a replacement for AIM-9 Sidewinder, the latter was to be the new high-altitude long-range missile designed to shoot down Mig 25 - hence the name Seekbat, bat, applying to NATO 25 MIGA "Foxbat" reporting on behalf of the.

The missile was equipped with a more powerful engine, with a dual thrust motor, than the AGM-78, and a combined guidance consisting of passive RL and IR. Seekbat's guidance system was largely based on the Standard ARM passive radar homing system. Modifying the guidance for air-to-air use required a fairly modest tweak to tailor the RF seeker to the MiG-25's radar frequencies and add an IR seeker for terminal homing. Considering that the Standard Missile itself had started life as an anti-air weapon, not too much else would have been required. The effectiveness of the missile was to be maintained up to an altitude of 24,000 meters. Test launches of XAIM-97 began in late 1972, but the Seekbat program did not make much progress.

During the Seekbat testing, the Surface-to-Air missiles (SAM) of the CIM-10 missile were used in the target role of the drone to simulate a high flying Foxbat. A ground-to-air cruise missile would prove to be a bad choice for a target drone, in part because of the requirement to operate it in a way beyond its intended operational envelope. In a long-term high-altitude flight a ground-to-air missile rocket would dive when the engines became starved oxygen. This feature of the flight was previously unknown to the project participants.

When the Surface-to-Air cruise missile rolled on its back, the wings shielded the engines, forcing the Seekbat to break from the target during the terminal guidance. Instead, a Seekbat test missile seeking an IR would pursue the sun. A ground-to-air cruise missile was "cold." As this was misunderstood by engineers, a long effort to develop missile guidance systems was undertaken without any effort to rectify the problems of the drone that caused planning failures.

While the MiG-25 was originally designed as response to the threat of the (since aborted) US B-70 Mach-3 bomber, the concept was judged a worthy adversary of US combat aircraft of the late Sixties; later versions (up to MiG-25M) could represent a danger to the F-14 and F-15. Inspection by U.S. Air Force and Japanese technicians of the MiG-25 Foxbat Soviet interceptor plane landed in Japan by a defecting pilot early in September 1976 revealed a minimum of innovation and an approach that relied on brute force. None of the avionics in the MiG-25 used solid-state circuitry, relying instead on vacuum tubes; fatigue cracks in the airframe had been repaired by rough welding techniques. Despite the design deficiencies, however, the MiG-25 was a formidable opponent.

Each AIM-97 Seekbat test missile was a hand built and very expensive to produce, causing the program to shift schedules with cost overruns. By early 1976 the program was completely cancelled.

Length, m 4,57
Wing, m 1,08
Diameter, m 0,343
Weight, kg 600
Speed, M 3
Height, m 24000
Engine TTRD, Aerojet Mk.27
HP High explosive fragmentation fragmentation



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