The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground missile designed for close air support. It is the most produced precision-guided missile in the Western world, is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities. Development began in 1966 at Hughes as the first missile to use an electronic contrast seeker, it entered service with the United States Air Force in August 1972. Since it has been exported to more than 30 countries and is certified on 25 aircraft; the Maverick served during the Vietnam, Yom Kippur, Iran–Iraq, Persian Gulf Wars, along with other smaller conflicts, destroying enemy forces and installations with varying degrees of success. Since its introduction into service, numerous Maverick versions had been designed and produced using electro-optical and imaging infrared guidance systems; the AGM-65 has two types of warhead: one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating.
The missile is produced by Raytheon Missile Systems. The Maverick shares the same configuration as Hughes's AIM-4 Falcon and AIM-54 Phoenix, measures more than 2.4 m in length and 30 cm in diameter. The Maverick's development history began in 1965, when the United States Air Force began a program to develop a replacement to the AGM-12 Bullpup. With a range of 16.3 km, the radio-guided Bullpup was introduced in 1959 and was considered a "silver bullet" by operators. However, the launch aircraft was required to fly straight towards the target during the missile's flight instead of performing evasive maneuvers, thus risking the crew; when it hit, the small 250 pounds warhead was only useful against small targets like bunkers, when used against larger targets like the Thanh Hóa Bridge it did little other than char the structure. The USAF began a series of projects to replace Bullpup, both larger versions of Bullpup, models C and D, as well as a series of Bullpup adaptations offering fire-and-forget guidance.
Among the latter were the AGM-83 Bulldog, AGM-79 Blue Eye and AGM-80 Viper. From 1966 to 1968, Hughes Missile Systems Division and Rockwell competed for the contract to build an new fire-and-forget missile with far greater range performance than any of the Bullpup versions; each were allocated $3 million for preliminary design and engineering work of the Maverick in 1966. In 1968, Hughes emerged with the $95 million contract for further development and testing of the missile. Hughes conducted a smooth development of the AGM-65 Maverick, with the first unguided test launch from a F-4 on 18 September 1969, with the first guided test on 18 December performing a direct hit on a M41 tank target at the Air Force Missile Development Center at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. In July 1971, the USAF and Hughes signed a $69.9 million contract for 2,000 missiles, the first of, delivered in 1972. Although early operational results were favorable, military planners predicted that the Maverick would fare less in the hazy conditions of Central Europe, where it would have been used against Warsaw Pact forces.
As such, development of the AGM-65B "Scene Magnified" version began in 1975 before it was delivered during the late 1970s. When production of the AGM-65A/B was ended in 1978, more than 35,000 missiles had been built. More versions of the Maverick appeared, among, the laser-guided AGM-65C/E. Development of the AGM-65C started in 1978 by Rockwell, who built a number of development missiles for the USAF. Due to high cost, the version was not procured by the USAF, instead entered service with the United States Marine Corps as the AGM-65E. Another major development was the AGM-65D. By imaging on radiated heat, the IIR is all-weather operable as well as showing improved performance in acquiring and tracking the hot engines, such as in tanks and trucks, that were to be one of its major missions; the seekerhead mechanically scanned the scene over a nitrogen-cooled 4-by-4 pixel array using a series of mirrored facets machined into the inner surface of the ring-shaped main gyroscope. The five-year development period of the AGM-65D started in 1977 and ended with the first delivery to the USAF in October 1983.
The version received initial operating capability in February 1986. The AGM-65F is a hybrid Maverick combining the AGM-65D's IIR seeker and warhead and propulsion components of the AGM-65E. Deployed by the United States Navy, the AGM-65F is optimized for maritime strike roles; the first AGM-65F launch from the P-3C took place in 1989, in 1994, the USN awarded Unisys a contract to integrate the version with the P-3C. Meanwhile, Hughes produced the AGM-65G, which has the same guidance system as the D, with some software modifications that track larger targets. In the mid-1990s to early 2000s, there were several ideas of enhancing the Maverick's potential. Among them was the stillborn plan to incorporate the Maverick millimeter wave active radar homing, which can determine the exact shape of a target. Another study called "Longhorn Project" was conducted by Hughes, Raytheon following the absorption of Hughes into Raytheon, looked a Maverick version equipped with turbojet engines instead of rocket motors.
The "Maverick ER", as it was dubbed, would have a "significant increase in range" compared to the Maverick's current range of 25 kilometres. The proposal was abandoned, but if the Maverick ER had entered production, it would have replaced the AGM-119B Penguin carried on the MH-60R; the most modern ver
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