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Beyond Visual Range

Definition/Scope: Beyond Visual Range missile usually refers to an air-to-air missile that is capable of engaging at ranges beyond 20 nautical miles (37 km). In addition to the range capability, the missile must also be capable of tracking its target at this range or of acquiring the target in flight. Systems in which a mid course correction is transmitted to the missile have been used. Early air-to-air missile used semi active radar guidance, that is the missile used the radiation produced by the launching aircraft to guide it to the target. The latest generation of BVR missiles use a combination of semi-active and active radar. The first such missiles were relatively simple beam riding designs that were soon replaced by Semi-active radar homing (SARH). This is where the launching aircraft’s radar is "locked" onto the target in a Single Target Track (STT) mode, directing a radar energy at the target that the missile seeker can "see" as it reflects off the target. The radar antenna must "illuminate" the target until impact. Missiles like the Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow and Vympel R-27 (NATO designation AA-10 ’Alamo’) home in on the reflected radiation, much like a Laser-guided bomb homes in on the reflected laser radiation. Some of the longest range missiles in use today still use this technology. The first air-to-air missile to introduce a terminal active seeker of its own was the AIM-54 Phoenix carried by the F-14 Tomcat. The Phoenix and its associated Tomcat radar, the AWG-9 was capable of multiple track and launch capability, which was unique to the Tomcat/Phoenix until the advent of AMRAAM in 1991. Newer fire-and-forget type missiles like the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM and the Vympel R-77 (NATO designation AA-12 ’Adder’) instead use an Inertial navigation system (INS) combined with initial target information from the launching aircraft and updates from a one or two-way data link in order to launch beyond visual range, and then switch to a terminal homing mode, typically active radar guidance.

Used For:

Protection WFF



Broader Terms:

F-14 Tomcat

Narrower Terms:

air-to-air missile
air-to-surface missile

Related Terms:

AIM-54 Phoenix
Sparrow missiles

CALL Homepage >> Thesaurus Last Updated: Sept 17, 2008