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B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1)



 
 
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Old May 25th 19, 04:53 AM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
Miloch
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Default B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1)

more at
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...these-missiles

During the Cold War, it seemed that nuclear warheads were the solution to an
alarming number of tactic and strategic challenges. Need to intercept and shoot
down formations of nuclear bombers emerging from over the North Pole? Nuclear
weapons. Need to sink a naval task force? Nuclear weapons. Need to get your
bombers to their targets deep inside enemy territory without being shot down by
enemy air defenses? Nuclear weapons, and in this case, Boeing's AGM-69 Short
Range Attack Missile (SRAM), in particular.

Much of this was more to do with limitations of precision guidance and
fine-tuned targeting capabilities than anything else. A nuclear warhead has
effects that can destroy soft and some fortified targets from the shockwave
alone. So, acceptable and effective accuracy could be measured in hundreds or
even thousands of feet, not tens of feet or even less as is common today.

SRAM was born in the early 1960s out of the glaring reality that even with
nap-of-the-earth flying, America's bombers were increasingly vulnerable to the
Soviet's ever more capable air defenses. In fact, the requirement for a
nuclear-tipped missile capable of taking out enemy air defense sites that could
threaten a strategic bomber on its path to its assigned target was already
realized in the form of the AGM-28 Hound Dog missile.

This system entered service in 1960, but it was massive—weighing in at over
10,000lbs and measuring 42 feet long—drastically limiting what type of aircraft
could employ it and how many an aircraft could carry at a single time. A better
solution was needed for the Air Force to continue to claim its bomber arm of the
nuclear triad represented a reliable deterrent.

Enter the AGM-69A SRAM. Entering service in 1972, it weighed in at around
2,200lbs and measured 14 feet in length. It was minuscule compared to the Hound
Dog, allowing for large quantities to be stored inside a bomber's weapons bay.
Its primary mission was the destruction of enemy air defenses (DEAD)—to
obliterate threatening SAM sites along a bomber's path—but it was also to be
used as a nuclear strike weapon. In this ancillary role, it could vaporize
secondary targets as its mothership flew to its primary target set.

SRAM's range was roughly 50 miles, but could reach out to nearly 100 miles under
certain flight profiles. It achieved this using a dual-pulse rocket motor that
made it possible for the missile to hit targets behind the launching aircraft
and achieve fly-out speeds of up to Mach 3.5. It also had a basic
terrain-following feature to add to its own survivability.

Guidance was provided by an onboard inertial navigation unit giving the weapon
good enough accuracy—with a circular error probability (CEP) of around 1,400
feet—to deliver its variable yield W69 warhead that could be set from 17kt to
210kt. For comparison, the "Little Boy" nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a
yield of roughly 15kt. The missile was programmed before a mission with its
intended target, but it could be reprogrammed in flight as well.

Originally intended for the B-52G and B-52H, SRAM went on to equip the FB-111
and the B-1B. The B-52s could carry up to 20 on its external pylons and in its
internal bay. The FB-111 could carry six—two internally and four externally. The
B-1B could carry two dozen SRAM—eight each on its three internal rotary
launchers.

----

In 1990, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney ordered SRAMs taken off all alert
bombers. Concerns regarding the warhead's ability to withstand fires aboard
aircraft had become a serious issue. The W69 warheads were not built to the same
standards as later designs and a ground fire on an alert bomber that occurred
years earlier could have resulted in a massive release of radiation, potentially
on a larger scale than Chernobyl, from the flames compromising the shielding
around the warhead's plutonium core if the winds had been blowing in a different
direction.

In 1993, the aging stockpile of missiles became an even more pressing concern.
Beyond the safety of their warheads, the condition of the SRAM inventory's
rocket motors was called into question. A number of SRAMs were found with
cracked propellant sections, likely the result of constant changes in
atmospheric temperature over the years. If fired, a cracked motor would likely
explode and take the aircraft with it while also scattering nuclear debris and
radiation over a huge area. This, along with major reductions in defense
spending and America's nuclear posture, were the final nail in the coffin for
SRAM. The weapons were pulled from service in 1993 and destroyed.

-----

Fast forward to today and the SRAM concept is being reborn to a certain
degree—albeit not in a nuclear fashion—with the development of standoff missiles
uniquely designed to quickly blast enemy air defenses as fighters and bombers
press toward their targets. The Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended
Range (AARGM-ER) is now a Navy and Air Force program and will serve as the basis
for the USAF's Stand-In Attack Weapon. Both of these missiles will be capable of
internal storage on the F-35A and F-35C. You can bet they will also wind up on
the B-21 Raider in the coming decade.

Above all else, the big takeaway here is that USAF bombers were very much set to
fight their way to their primary target sets by blasting air defense sites with
nuclear weapons along the way. As such, SRAM was a very ineloquent solution to a
very real problem facing America's airborne strategic deterrent before the
introduction of highly capable air-launched cruise missiles. SRAM also serves a
reminder of just how much destruction a B-52 of the latter Cold War era would
have laid down in its wake.

A frightening reality to contemplate indeed.


more at
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...these-missiles



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B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 May 25th 19 04:53 AM
B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 May 25th 19 04:53 AM
B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 May 25th 19 04:53 AM
B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 May 25th 19 04:53 AM
B-52s Would Have Nuked Their Way Through Soviet Air Defenses With These Missiles [1/6] - AGM-69A SRAM.jpg (1/1) Miloch Aviation Photos 0 May 25th 19 04:53 AM


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