Infobox Weapon
name=AGM-86A on display at the National Air and Space Museum

origin= United States
type=Air-to-ground strategic cruise missile
manufacturer=Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
unit_cost=AGM-86B: $1 million;
AGM-86C: additional $160,000 conversion cost
service=AGM-86B: 1,142 December 1982;
AGM-86C: 239, (Block 0- 41; Block I- 198) January 1991
engine=Williams International
F107-WR-101 Turbofan Engine,
600 lbf (2.7 kN) thrust
weight=3,200 lb (1,429 kg)
length=20 ft. 10 in. (6.35 m)
diameter=2 ft. 0 in. (0.62 m)
wingspan=12 ft 0 in. (3.65 m)
speed=AGM-86B: 550 mph (890 km/h, Mach 0.73);
AGM 86C: classified (nominal high subsonic)
vehicle_range=AGM-86B: 1500+ miles (2,400+ km);
AGM-86C: classified (nominal 680 miles, 1,100 km)
filling=AGM-86B: Nuclear capable;
AGM-86C; Block 0, 2,000 lb. (900 kg) class, Block I, 3,000 lb. (1,400 kg) class
guidance=AGM-86B: Litton inertial navigation element with terrain contour-matching updates;
AGM 86C: Litton INS element integrated with multi-channel onboard GPS
launch_platform=B-52G Stratofortress and
B-52H Stratofortress bombers

The Boeing AGM-86 ALCM (AGM-86A, AGM-86B and AGM-86C) is an American subsonic air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) built by Boeing Company and operated by the United States Air Force. The missiles were developed to increase the effectiveness and survivability of Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers. In combination, they dilute an enemy's forces and complicate defense of its territory.cite web|url= |title=Factsheet: AGM-86B/C/D MISSILES|publisher=United States Air Force|accessdate=2008-10-07]

Examples of the Boeing AGM-86A and AGM-86B are on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum near Washington D.C. [cite web|url=|title=Missile, Cruise, Air-launched, AGM-86B|work=Collections Database|publisher=Smithsonian Institution|accessdate=2008-10-07]


The small, winged AGM-86B/C missile is powered by a Williams F107 turbofan jet engine that propels it at sustained subsonic speeds and can be launched from both high and low altitudes. After launch, the missile's folded wings, tail surfaces and engine inlet deploy. The nuclear AGM-86B is then able to fly complicated routes to a target through use of a terrain contour-matching guidance system (TERCOM). The conventionally armed AGM-86C uses an onboard Global Positioning System (GPS) coupled with its inertial navigation system (INS) to fly. This allows the missile to guide itself to the target with pinpoint accuracy. Litton Guidance and Control, and Interstate Electronics Corp. were the guidance contractors for the C-model.

AGM-86B/C missiles increase flexibility in target selection. AGM-86B missiles can be air-launched in large numbers by the bomber force. B-52H bombers carry six AGM-86B or AGM-86C missiles on each of two externally mounted pylons and eight internally on a rotary launcher, giving the B-52H a maximum capacity of 20 missiles per aircraft.

The AGM-86C CALCM differs from the AGM-86B air launched cruise missile in that it carries a conventional blast/fragmentation payload rather than a nuclear payload.

An enemy force would have to counterattack each of the missiles, making defense against them costly and complicated. The enemy's defenses are further hampered by the missiles' small size and low-altitude flight capability, which makes them difficult to detect on radar.



In February 1974, the U.S. Air Force entered into contract to develop and flight-test the prototype or proof-of-concept vehicle AGM-86A air-launched cruise missile, which was slightly smaller than the later B and C models. The 86A model did not go into production. Instead, in January 1977, the Air Force began full-scale development of the AGM-86B, which greatly enhanced the B-52's capabilities and helped the USA maintain a strategic deterrent.

Production of the initial 225 AGM-86B missiles began in fiscal year 1980 and production of a total 1,715 missiles was completed in October 1986. The air-launched cruise missile had become operational four years earlier, in December 1982. More than 100 launches have taken place since then, with a 90% approximate success rate. The missile's flight path is pre-programmed and it becomes totally autonomous after launch.

In June 1986 a limited number of AGM-86B missiles were converted to carry a high-explosive blast/fragmentation warhead and an internal GPS. They were redesignated as the AGM-86C CALCM. This modification also replaced the B model's terrain contour-matching guidance system (TERCOM) and integrated a GPS capability with the existing inertial navigation computer system.


The AGM-86C is a Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) and is a conventional blast/fragmentation derivative of the nuclear armed AGM-86B. The AGM-86D is the Penetrator version of the CALCM which is designed to attack deeply buried targets.

In 1996 and 1997, 200 additional CALCMs were produced from excess ALCMs. These missiles, designated Block I, incorporate improvements such as a larger and improved conventional payload (3,000 pound blast class), a multi-channel GPS receiver and integration of the buffer box into the GPS receiver. The upgraded avionics package was retrofitted into all existing CALCM (Block 0) so all AGM-86C missiles are electronically identical.

Testing Facilities

* Primrose Lake Testing Range in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada


The CALCM became operational in January 1991 at the onset of Operation Desert Storm. Seven B-52Gs from Barksdale AFB launched 35 missiles at designated launch points in the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility to attack high-priority targets in Iraq. These "round-robin" missions marked the beginning of the operation's air force component and are the longest known aircraft combat sorties in history (more than 14,000 miles and 35 hours of flight), this record previously held by Royal Air Force Vulcan bombers during Operation Black Buck in 1982.

CALCM's next employment occurred in September 1996 during Operation Desert Strike. In response to Iraq's continued hostilities against the Kurds in northern Iraq, the Air Force launched 13 CALCMs in a joint attack with the Navy. This mission has put the CALCM program in the spotlight for future modifications. Operation Desert Strike was also the combat debut of the B-52H and the carriage of the CALCM on the weapons bay-mounted Common Strategic Rotary Launcher (CSRL). During the Operation Desert Storm, the CALCM had been carried on the B-52G and wing-mounted pylons.

The CALCM was also used in Operation Desert Fox in 1998, Operation Allied Force in 1999, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Operation Iraqi Freedom was also the combat debut of the AGM-86D, a further development of the missile which replaced the blast/fragmentation warhead of the AGM-86C with a penetrating warhead.

Future of the ALCM

The Air Force in 2008 maintains an arsenal of 1,140 AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missiles and 460 newer and stealthy AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles. The B-52 is the only platform for these missiles. In 2007 USAF announced its intention to retire all of its ACMs and to reduce the ALCM fleet by more than 500 missiles, leaving 528 nuclear cruise missiles. The ALCM force will be consolidated at Minot AFB, North Dakota, and all excess cruise missile bodies will be destroyed.

The reductions are in part a result of the Moscow Treaty requirement to get below 2,200 deployed nuclear weapons by 2012, with the ACM chosen because it has reliability issues and higher maintenance costs. ["AIR FORCE Magazine", August, 2007.]


External links

* [ ALCM/CALCM Photo Gallery]
* [ Designation Systems' Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles: AGM-86]
* [ Global Security's AGM-86C/D Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles]

ee also

*Strategic Air Command

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