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AGM-45 Shrike Anti-Radar Missile

DAYTON, Ohio - The AGM-45 Shrike Anti-Radar Missile on display in the First In, Last Out: Wild Weasels vs. SAMs exhibit in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The AGM-45 Shrike Anti-Radar Missile on display in the First In, Last Out: Wild Weasels vs. SAMs exhibit in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This photograph of an F-105G armed with two AGM-78s and four Shrikes on two dual launchers was dropped as a leaflet on SAM sites to intimidate the crews. Although dual launchers were available, the Wild Weasels rarely used them because they vibrated heavily if only one Shrike was fired. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This photograph of an F-105G armed with two AGM-78s and four Shrikes on two dual launchers was dropped as a leaflet on SAM sites to intimidate the crews. Although dual launchers were available, the Wild Weasels rarely used them because they vibrated heavily if only one Shrike was fired. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Originally developed by the U.S. Navy from the Sparrow air-to-air missile, the anti-radar AGM-45 Shrike homed on and destroyed radar emitters. The Shrike gave Wild Weasel crews a limited standoff capability, and it remained an important anti-radar weapon until the end of the Southeast Asia War.

Although much better than the unguided rockets previously used, Shrikes were not ideal weapons. The AGM-45's sensor head had a narrow field of view, so the launch aircraft had to be pointed toward the SAM site. The Shrike had less than half the range (about seven miles) and was slower than the SA-2 (Mach 2 compared to Mach 3.5). Therefore, Wild Weasels had to enter the reach of an SA-2 site to attack it with the Shrike, and the SA-2 would arrive at its destination before the Shrike did. Lastly, the Shrike had no memory chip to "remember" where the radar was, so if an enemy radar emitter shut down, the missile would miss the target.

Overcoming the missiles' limitations, Wild Weasel crews learned to use Shrikes effectively, often using them to mark radar site for attack with unguided rockets and bombs. Even if a crew did not get a kill, Shrike missiles suppressed enemy radar sites by making them shut down to avoid getting hit.

Click here to return to the Southeast Asia War Gallery or here to return to First In, Last Out: Wild Weasels vs. SAMs.

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