View Full Version : F-15E AIM-120/AIM-7 question..?
7th Feb 2012, 21:13
Gentlemen, a puzzle.
while soaring through the interwebnet, i cam upon the wiki (yes, i know) page for the F-15E. one of the pictures on said page showed a USAF F-15E over Northern Iraq in 1999. the aircraft was pictured head on, presumably from a refueling tanker, and showed the aircraft carrying 2 AIM-9 and 2 AIM-120 on the shoulder mounted pylons, 2 500lb LGB on the left conformal fuel tank, and a single AIM-7 Sparrow on the right conformal fuel tank.
File:USAF F-15E Strike Eagle Iraq 1999.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USAF_F-15E_Strike_Eagle_Iraq_1999.jpg)
could anyone suggest a reason why this aircraft would be armed with an AIM-7 when it had AIM-120's available - and, i must admit, i'd thought that Sparrow had long been phased out of the USAF by that stage....
yours, in gratitude...
7th Feb 2012, 21:18
Is it not an AGM-88 HARM?
7th Feb 2012, 21:20
Sure it's an AIM-7? Could it be a HARM?
7th Feb 2012, 21:27
i'm fairly sure its not a HARM - that was my initial thought. the 'wings' of the missile don't appear to have the kink in them that HARM does, and the missile doesn't appear to be big enough for a HARM, but it looks significantly bigger than a Shrike...
7th Feb 2012, 21:36
I remember hearing that the AIM-7 was slightly better at close quarters.
the mind aint what it used to be though.
7th Feb 2012, 21:52
It's an AIM-7.
7th Feb 2012, 22:38
AIM7 and AIM120, is carried by those capable for just the one serious reason and that is the "fire and forget" portion of the AIM120's discription.
If you are in a fight beyond AIM9 range and you are targeting and then locking up a radar target that is hostile. Then guiding an AIM7 to the kill is so much better if your wingman is in the same area as the target, or alternatally there is a non combatant in the area of the hostile.
7th Feb 2012, 23:19
This is the image in question, for those who don't want to go hunting:
Can the Beagle fire the AMRAAMs while the tanks are still on the pylons?
8th Feb 2012, 00:21
Yep, its a AIM-7M (I don't think the F-15E was ever cleared to carry AGM-88 HARM, USAF Weasel types with that weapon were the F-4G and F-16C(J)). I have seen both weapons in drill form fitted to the aircraft when it was first displayed at Mildenhall's Air Fate in 1993. The AIM-7 didn't go out of service with the US Armed Forces as an air launched weapon until not long ago (The F-14 was never modified to carry the AIM-120, so it needed something with BVR smaller than the AIM-54, i.e. Sparrow).
8th Feb 2012, 07:49
The F-15E did fly captive carry tests with the AGM-88 HARM, but the weapon is not carried operationally (it was carried on the outboard wing pylons, which have also never been fitted operationally).
The mixed load AIM-7/AIM-120 combo was fairly typical in OSW/ONW, where "the threat" was not considered to be very capable. The rationale explained to me by F-15E aircrew at the time was that the USAF's AIM-7 stocks were approaching the end of their shelf life. There was a preference therefore to employ the Sparrow before the AMRAAM when conditions allowed, and that meant carrying the mixed load.
In the end it was all academic - there were no air-to-air engagements by the F-15E in either OSW or ONW. Ditto for the C-model Eagle.
9th Feb 2012, 19:39
New guy here - Former F-15C pilot with a few answers.
Without question, the missile is an AIM-7M. Itís likely there is a second AIM-7 on the aft fuselage station out of view of the camera.
While Harms may have been tested in the early days of the aircraft, they have never been carried by operational F-15Es. The aircraft is not equipped with the interface required to use the missile.
There was a period of time during the initial years of the transition to the AIM-120, that they weren't plentiful in certain theaters. I'm not sure about 1999 but it's possible this particular unit was allotted only so many AMRAAMs(due to their primary mission as a bomber) and rather than go out with empty stations, they chose to take some AIM-7s as well. Personally, I'm surprised to see them using one of the fuselage stations for an AIM-7 as that weapons station can be used for bombs or missiles. I would think, in light of the limited number of aircraft patrolling the NFZ at that time, having more air to ground ordnance available would have been a priority.
There are several reasons that a mix of AIM-7s and AMRAAMs was preferable (more so in the F-15C). Some can be discussed here, others cannot. First, the AIM-7 is a much larger weapon with a bigger warhead. If I had to down a larger aircraft, I might choose it over the smaller AIM-120. Also, due to its slow acceleration compared with the AMRAAM, the sparrow was surprising capable in certain types of turning engagements. When stuck in lag with your nose well behind the tail of an adversary but with a radar lock, the AIM-7 was the weapon of choice. Another was mentioned in another post concerning friendlies nearby, although that situation isnít as likely as it sounds. If you can't shoot an AMRAAM because friendly aircraft might be in danger from your shot, then it's unlikely an AIM-7 would be much better. In reality, the scenario described where friendlies might be nearby and a factor to your shot was very limited in scope. Both missiles are very discriminating and if shot with a solid radar lock, the chances of them hitting something you don't want them to hit are very small.
We would never choose an AIM-7 over an AMRAAM for "economic" reasons (i.e. let's get rid of them because they're old). We didn't train that way and we certainly wouldn't employ that way either. Frankly, the chance to engage an enemy fighter is so uncommon that a fighter pilot is simply going to choose the best weapon for the situation and press the attack to the utmost of his ability. The shelf life of the weapons he has on board will probably never even enter into his thought process.
Any version of the F-15 can fire wing mounted missiles while carrying wing tanks without restriction. There was a restriction to firing fuselage mounted AIM-120s and AIM-7s with wing tanks still on. The aft mounted missiles might contact the tank under certain low G scenarios, so the solution was to jettison prior to launch (likely due to normal tactics approaching an engagement) or load the jet up with a couple of Gs during the shot.
9th Feb 2012, 19:57
Jeremiah: ('tis a fine drink, eh? Also, a jaunty little tune by Dos Gringos). :cool:
The problem with Phoenix, and I suspect in a different sense AMRAAM, and why a mix seemed to me always a good idea,
was whether or not your RoE on a given mission/sortie would allow you
(for whatever reason, be it Command and Control, or politics, or who knows what)
to engage BVR.
Your other points are much appreciated, thank you for the insights.
( I wish folks would not post such enormous pictures that the margins go all crazy ... )
9th Feb 2012, 20:13
I was wondering if I had my options set up incorrectly as I was finding the need to scroll sideways rather annoying. The large picture posted earlier is the problem?
You gotta love the Gringos. "2's Blind" is still my all time favorite.
I don't think I understand your question/statement: All three missiles you mention (-54, -7, -120) are BVR weapons. So carriage of the AIM-7 really wouldn't be a solution to some type of ROE constraint denying my BVR shots.
If I had to go to war again tomorrow in an F-15C, I would probably carry 6 or 7 AMRAAMs and 1 or 2 AIM-9X. As the AIM-7 is no longer in the inventory, it's not an option. Even if it was, the limited number of instances where I might favor it are so unlikely to occur, that I'd rather take the longer shots and multi-targeting options the AMRAAM offers.
9th Feb 2012, 20:25
My Jeremia stock is running low. I'll trade you 2 7Ms for three bottles.
9th Feb 2012, 21:27
Fair enough, Jeremiah, and true.
The AIM 9 in the mix was a standard load that I recall.
"I spent 5 months TDY ... "
(but I hid some of my money! :} )