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Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

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TonyG2
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Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#1

Post by TonyG2 »

Looking to settle a bet here.

Occasionally I play flight sim games, the more arcade style ones such as the Ace Combat series. As anyone who has plaid these will know, you have a totally unrealistic loadout of missiles and these can target both air and ground targets.

A friend of mine maintains that you could take out a ground target in real life using a heat seeker such as an ASRAAM or Sidewinder on the basis that so long as its a heat source the missile doesn't care. Indeed that is the whole basis for using flares to spoof a missile.

I argue no. The reason I say this is (1) there is a hell of a difference between the heat signature of a T-90 tank and a Mig at full military thrust (2) when you pop flares, you also get the hell out of the way. Most tanks, let alone static targets don't have that as an option. I back this up with the story of how a late model Spitfire was able to evade a Lightning during mock dogfights in 1957. The heat seeking Firestreaks couldn't lock onto the Spits engine. It wasn't hot enough.

https://defenceoftherealm.wordpress.com ... ed-combat/ Now I accept that modern ASRAAMs may be more sensitive but still......

However I am still unable to convince said friend that he is wrong. I even showed him the scene from the movie Pentagon Wars where they strapped hotplates to a tank to make it hot enough to allow a missile to lock on..
Gen. Partridge: Even a heat-seeking missile can miss a target.
Chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Committee: General, I see here that you taped electric hot-plates to the surface of the vehicle to help your heat-seeking missile find its target. And, that the temperature of the vehicle was so high that it could have fried an egg at twenty feet.
So what do you think? Take out a tank with an ASRAAM or is it an impossibility?

Although if F-Toys would do one of their Vs sets with a Spit and a Lightning I wouldn't object....

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herbarnold99
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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#2

Post by herbarnold99 »

Your friend is not all wrong, in that many heat-seekers (especially early model AIM-9) would simply guide to the hottest point (within sensor limits) in the seeker field of view after launch. I recall reading about a Vietnam era US pilot launching one that he claimed took out a truck. And of course, early Sidewinders could get decoyed by the sun. However, I know of no example where the Sidewinder was seriously used as an air-to-ground missile. What the seeker "sees" among ground clutter is a much more indistinct, fluctuating and complicated picture than a hot jet exhaust against a cool sky background, so the ability to guide on vehicular targets was nil. Also, the AIM-9 was designed to shred an aluminum aircraft structure with an expanding rod warhead which would be largely ineffective against armored vehicles.

That said, infra-red guidance technology has advanced light years since the Sidewinder's introduction. Besides much higher resolution in IR imagery, computer processing allows impressive discrimination and decoy rejection capabilities. And there are now many more complicated and advanced guidance methods employed than used by the early AIM-9. However, if any modern AAM was equally lethal to both air and ground targets, you can rest assured they would be marketed that way. They're not.

So I'd say your friend only conditionally wins the bet... it may be possible to take out certain (very cooperative) ground targets with heat-seeking AAMs, but the likelihood of doing so is extremely low. (And then throw in lots of caveats about which particular missile type, which targets, etc., etc.)

Cheers,
Herb

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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#3

Post by Wege »

Chipping in - it would depend on the programming of the AAM in question. But then, why would you want to use a 15G capable vehicle against a .5G ground vehicle? There are Mavericks (AGM-65D, F & G) for that, not to mention the Kh-29D.

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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#4

Post by moresby »

...and even if you get a lock-on on a tank, I doubt a Sidewinder would do much damage.
AIM-9s carry a fragmentation HE charge, enough to cripple a plane even if detonated by its proximity fuse; that's not what you need to take out a tank -barring a critical hit- even if hit on the thin upper plate armor.

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TonyG2
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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#5

Post by TonyG2 »

I'm claiming victory in my argument. If a an air to air heat seeker could be used like this it would be marketed as such.

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spejic
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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#6

Post by spejic »

Actually, the AIM-9X can be used against ground targets, and has been successfully tested in 2009. For the AIM-9X, it's just a software upgrade because the missile already has a digital video-camera style sensor in it so it's seeking an infrared image of something and not just point heat sources.

It isn't for use against tanks, but can be used against things like trucks and small boats.
1/144 decal templates for home printing: https://sites.google.com/site/planetspe ... -templates

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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#7

Post by net_sailor »

I'm just walking here, and plant this link ;)
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-335762/

AIM-9X hi resolution image. Definitely seeker don't pursue "hot point", but can see the whole aircraft:
Image

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Re: Other Uses for an ASRAAM/AIM-9 Sidewinder

#8

Post by herbarnold99 »

"However, if any modern AAM was equally lethal to both air and ground targets, you can rest assured they would be marketed that way. They're not."

Ok, better make that "They are now!"

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