Anti-radiation missile

Anti-radiation missile

An anti-radiation missile (ARM) is a missile which is designed to detect and home in on an enemy radio emission source. Typically these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communication can also be targeted in this manner.


Most ARM designs to date have been intended for use against ground-based radars. Commonly carried by specialist aircraft in the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) role (known to the USAF as "Wild Weasels"), the primary purpose of this type of missile is to degrade enemy air defences in the first period of a conflict in order to increase the chances of survival for the following waves of strike aircraft. They can also be used to quickly shut down unexpected SAM sites during a raid. Aircraft which fly with strike aircraft to protect them from enemy air defences often also carry cluster bombs and are known as a SEAD escort. The cluster bombs can be used to ensure that after the ARM disables the SAM system's radar, the command post, missile launchers, and other components or equipment are also destroyed to guarantee the SAM site stays down.

Early ARMs such as the AGM-45 Shrike were not particularly intelligent; they would simply home in on the source of radiation and explode when they got near. Smart SAM operators learned to turn their radar off when an ARM was fired at them then turn it back on later, greatly reducing the missile's effectiveness. This led to the development of more advanced ARMs like the AGM-78 Standard ARM and AGM-88 HARM missiles, which have inertial guidance systems (INS) built-in. This allows them to "remember" the radar's location if it is turned off and continue to home into it. It is less likely to hit the radar if it is turned off quickly, as the longer the radar is off (and assuming it never turns back on), the more error is introduced into the missile's course. However, the high speed and smokeless motors of the more recent missiles (such as the HARM) mean that they will probably close the distance significantly before anyone even realizes one has been fired. This gives the missile a much higher probability of destroying the radar even in this circumstance. In any case, even a temporary shut down of the enemy's missile guidance radar can be of a great advantage to friendly aircraft during battle.

The British ALARM has the ability to loiter: a parachute allows it to slow its descent until the radar reactivates. The AGM-136 Tacit Rainbow (an American missile) would have operated in the same way. This was a small, air launched cruise missile, which could be fired either at a transmitting radar, or an area in which SAM radars are believed to be hiding. In the event of the radar deactivating, the Tacit Rainbow would loiter, using its small jet engine, until the radar reappeared – a "Persistent" Anti-radiation Missile. The project was cancelled in 1991, for budget reasons.

Another design point of modern ARM missiles, other than the range (which is hopefully greater than that of the SAM systems it will be targeted at), is their speed. Some SAM systems utilize huge missiles which are able to accelerate up to incredible speeds (some as high as Mach 6), which means that if the ARM is to be useful in a "duel" between an aircraft and a SAM site, the ARM should be able to fly to and hit the SAM site faster than the SAM can fly to and hit the aircraft. The AGM-88 HARM mostly succeeds in this area; its top speed of around Mach 4 is partly due to its altitude and speed advantage at launch over the SAM (which has to climb from rest at ground level), and partly due to its powerful rocket motor. This means that if the SAM launches a missile at the aircraft first, unless it is one of the fastest SAM systems such as the SA-10/S-300 or SA-20/S-400, the aircraft is likely to win.


Several surface-to-surface missiles, like the P-700 Granit, P-500 Bazalt, MM40 Exocet and OTO Melara Teseo include a home-on-jam capability wherein the receiver component of their active radar seeker is used to home in on enemy radar, ECM or communications. This makes these missiles significantly harder to defeat with ECM and distraction countermeasures, and makes the use of semi-active missiles against them dangerous.


Due to experiences with jamming during Vietnam and Middle Eastern wars in late 1960s by US-built aircraft, the Soviets have designed an alternative guidance mode for their S-75 (SA-2) missiles, which allowed them to home onto the source of the jamming if normal forms of navigation failed. In cases of heavy jamming, missiles were often launched exclusively in this mode, ironically because passive tracking allowed the SAM operators to prevent American anti-radiation missiles from being fired at them in retaliation. Recently, The People's Republic of China developed the FT-2000 system to counter AEW and AWACS targets, based on the HQ-9 which is in turn based on the S-300PMU. The anti-radiation missile systems has been marketed to Pakistan and various countries, without success.


More recently, air-to-air ARM designs have begun to appear, notably the Russian Vympel R-27P. Such missiles have several advantages over other missile guidance techniques; they do not trigger radar warning receivers (conferring a measure of surprise), and they can have a longer range (since battery life of the seeker head is the limiting factor on the range of most active radar homing systems).

The American-made AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile seeks out electronic jamming countermeasures to improve end-stage performance, its so-called "home on jam" capability. However, this anti-radiation mode is not the exclusive means of guidance of the unit.


cite news
author = Reuben Johnson
url =
title = Improved Russian radar may level playing field
publisher = Asian Aerospace
date = 2006-02
accessdate = 2006-07-10 Russian)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile — AGM 88 HARM Pour les articles homonymes, voir HARM. AGM 88 HARM …   Wikipédia en Français

  • High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile — HARM, type of missile that zeroes in on sources of radar radiation …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missile — ALARM, missile with an infrared transmitter that zeroes in on targets that give off heat …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Anti-ballistic missile — An anti ballistic missile (ABM) is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles (a missile for missile defense). A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory.… …   Wikipedia

  • Anti-aircraft warfare — Anti aircraft warfare, or air defense, is any method of engaging hostile military aircraft in defence of ground objectives, ground or naval forces or denial of passage through a specific airspace region, area or anti aircraft combat zone [ The… …   Wikipedia

  • Missile Hawk — MIM 23 Hawk Fonction Missile sol air Constructeur Raytheon Corporation Co …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Missile — For other uses, see Missile (disambiguation). A V 2 missile launch by the British during Operation Backfire. Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self propelled guided weapon system.… …   Wikipedia

  • Anti-submarine weapon — An anti submarine weapon is any one of a range of devices that are intended to act against a submarine, and its crew, to destroy (sink) the vessel or to destroy or reduce its capability as a weapon of war. An anti submarine weapon can be… …   Wikipedia

  • Anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom — Anti nuclear movement Australia  · Austria  · Canada France  · Germany  · India Japan   …   Wikipedia

  • Missile guidance — A guided bomb strikes a practice target Missile guidance refers to a variety of methods of guiding a missile or a guided bomb to its intended target. The missile s target accuracy is a critical factor for its effectiveness. Guidance systems… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.