Anti-radiation missile

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An anti-radiation missile (ARM) is intended to home on radar, or sometimes other electronic transmitters, and destroy them by blast and fragmentation. Typically, it homes on the radiation source, which may be the antenna rather than the harder-to-replace electronics.

Early ARM designs

Many ARMs, even modern ones, may be adaptations of other missiles. One of the earliest, the U.S. AGM-45 Shrike was created, in 1963, by the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake by designing a radar-seeking guidance unit, replacing the existing semi-active radar homing guidance unit on an AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile.[1]

The PRC attempted a copy of the Shrike, designated YJ-5, but did not meet with success. [2]

Israel adapted the Shrike for ground launch, from a tank chassis, the combination known as the Kilshon. A second stage motor was added to the missile, as is typical for air-launched missiles adapted to a ground-launched role, where they do not have the initial altitude and speed provided when released from an aircraft.

Contemporary ARM missiles and design approaches

France, the US and the UK have taken different design approaches for ARMs. Russian/Soviet design is more like the U.S. designs for the basic attack on surface radars, but also have explicitly addressed attacking dedicated C3I aircraft, including airborne warning and control. Some U.S. air-to-air missiles may have a secondary capability that can be used against airborne radar.


U.S. AGM-88 HARM missiles have extremely high speed, with the intention of destroying a surface to air missile's ground control before the SAM can strike.[3] To use the HARM, an aircraft needs to be equipped with the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS).[4] While the HARM can be launched by any aircraft with the HTS, its preferred carriers are the SEAD-specific F-16CJ Hornet (Block 50) and EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft.


The British BaE Systems ALARM, however, deploys a parachute so it can loiter over a battlefield, and then attack any of a set of radars that quickly turn on and off as a means of [[electronic protection]. [5]

French ARM

The French Martel and its successor, the Armat, are optimized for yet another doctrine. HARM is intended for a "quick-draw" exchange with a SAM, killing its radar before the launch aircraft can be hit. ALARM, and the cancelled U.S. TACIT RAINBOW, were intended to discourage radar use on a battlefield.

The French missiles, however, are optimized for planned missions to destroy specific radars; they have considerably longer range and a larger warhead than the U.S. or U.K. designs. While the latter mission could be used as defensive weapons against radars discovered during a general mission, the French version would be more likely to be used to take down early warning and ground controlled intercept, likely fixed, as part of a campaign against an integrated air defense system. [6]. The original Martel missile was part of a joint program between British BaE and French Matra, which produced two main variants: the UK-designed AJ 168 TV guided version, and the French-designed AS 37 anti-radiation version. In U.K practice, both versions were carried on maritime strike Buccaneeer aircraft. Only the AS37 was deployed by the French, on Mirage and Jaguar aircraft for land warfare.

Armat is a second generation of the AS 37, with the same flight characteristics and warhead, but more advanced electronics. It can engage both radars and jammers.

Soviet/Russian/PRC ARM

Originally a Soviet Zvezda Bureau design, the Kh-31P (NATO codename: AS-17C Krypton-C), now in Russian and Peoples Republic of China service, is a derivative of the Kh-31A (AS-17A) anti-shipping missile.[2] The PRC builds a licensed copy as the YJ-91. This ARM was optimized to attack the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot SAM.

Intended to attack AWACS aircraft, the Zvezda Bureau is working on a longer-range variant of the Kh-31P, with a second stage. Soviet and Russian designers have long been interested in ARMs to attack airborne search radars; the Vympel R-33 (NATO reporting name AA-9 AMOS), listed as an air-to-air missile, was seen as having U.S. E-2 Hawkeye and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft as its primary target.

Like an American long-range AAM, the AIM-54 Phoenix, which was designed together with the F-14 Tomcat fighter, the R-33 was designed as a joint system with the MiG-31 (fighter) ((NATO reporting name FOXHOUND). The Phoenix can home on jammers or enemy radars, although normally it uses its own powerful radar after initial guidance by the launching aircraft. With the retirement of the F-14 and Phoenix, the long-range US AAM is the AIM-120 AMRAAM, which has home-on-jam although specific antiradar modes have not been described.


  1. AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missile fact sheet, Hill Air Force Base, United States Air Force
  2. 2.0 2.1 KH-31P / YJ-91 anti-radiation missile,
  3. AGM-88 HARM, Federation of American Scientists
  4. Hura, M. et al., Chapter 10: Fighters and Weapons, Interoperability: A Continuing Challenge in Coalition Air Operations, RAND Corporation
  5. ALARM, Royal Air Force
  6. Kopp, Carlo, "The Matra Armat", Air Power Australia