AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile [ALCM]
The AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles was developed to increase the effectiveness of B-52 bombers. The small, winged AGM-86B is powered by a turbofan jet engine that propels it at sustained subsonic speeds. After launch, the missile's folded wings, tail surfaces and engine inlet deploy. It then is able to fly complicated routes to a target through use of a terrain contour-matching guidance system. During flight, this system compares surface characteristics with maps of the planned flight route stored in on-board computers to determine the missile's location. As the missile nears its target, comparisons become more specific, guiding the missile to target with pinpoint accuracy.
The B-52 and the AGM-86B increase flexibility to attack targets. AGM-86B missiles can be air-launched in large numbers by the bomber force. The B-52H bombers carry six AGM-86B missiles on each of two externally mounted pylons and have been modified with a bomb bay rotary launcher for eight additional air-launched cruise missiles.
An enemy force would have to counterattack each of the missiles, making defense against them costly and complicated. The enemy's defenses are further hampered by the missiles' small size and low-altitude flight capability, which makes them difficult to detect on radar.The bomber's exposure to enemy defenses is reduced due to its extended range of effectiveness. Therefore, the missile may be launched with a large uncertainty in position, will independently navigate to the target, and initiate warhead detonation with a small Circular Error Probability (CEP).
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|