Air Weapons: Making Maverick Forever Young

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October 18, 2014: The U.S. Navy is converting 500 older AGM-65A Maverick air-to-ground missiles from TV guidance to the laser guided AGM-65E version. This will cost about $100,000 per missiles and will include replacement or refurbishment of any other components that need it. Bought new Mavericks cost about $160,000-$200,000 each depending on the version. There are three, based on guidance system, which includes infrared (which works well at night or in bad weather), TV image or laser. Maverick is a "fire and forget" missile. Once the pilot picks out the target on a TV screen (for the day or infrared versions) or the fire control system (for the laser version) the missile continues to home in on the designated target without any continued pilot assistance. Max range is about 25 kilometers. The 300 kg (660 pound) missile can carry a warhead of up to 138 kg (300 pounds). The most frequent user of Mavericks are F-16s.

The Maverick has been in service since 1972. Since then, about 6,000 have been used in combat (8 percent of those manufactured), with 93 percent of those hitting their targets. Maverick was originally designed to take out armored vehicles. In the last decade, that chore has largely been taken over by cheaper GPS guided bombs and smaller missiles like Hellfire. But with its large, high explosive, warhead the Maverick has become a popular option for ground support of troops, especially if the enemy is in fortifications or large structures. These are too sturdy for Hellfire missiles and often too small to get a guaranteed hit with a GPS guided bomb. The Maverick is more accurate and has plenty of punch. Nevertheless, Maverick may finally be replaced when the U.S. begins using the British Brimstone. This is a Hellfire variant designed to launch from fast moving aircraft, not just helicopters and prop-driven aircraft. Brimstone was remarkably effective in Libya in 2011 and several other nations have since bought it.

 

 


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