Missiles, Air-to-Air

An air-to-air missile (AAM) is a guided missile powered by one or more rocket motors and with some type of guidance system to detect and/or direct it to an opponent’s aircraft. This entry examines the development of AAMs and describes their features.

General Description

AAMs usually have long, thin cylinders that contain the radar system, radar homer, or infrared (IR) detector at the front, followed by the avionics that control the missile. Typically, the center of the missile contains the warhead, usually several kilograms of high explosive surrounded by metal that fragments on detonation. The missile’s fuel tanks and rocket motor are in the missile’s rear. Most AAMs use solid-fuel rockets, but some longer range missiles are liquid fueled. The AAM usually has dorsal and/ or tailfins ...

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